On Wednesday, in what seemed like a major shift, Mark Zuckerberg wrote that he wants to reorient Facebook around private, encrypted, and ephemeral messaging, rather than public sharing. This could have significant implications not just for regulators, who have been trying to get Facebook to crack down on offensive and violent content, but also for the future of news and information—including misinformation.
In the past, Zuckerberg has said that his aim was to connect people and make it easier for them to share. And in part because of how Facebook’s advertising engine works, the focus has been on making as much of that sharing as public as possible. But Zuckerberg seems to have changed his views. “As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” Zuckerberg wrote. “The future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever.”
More than ever before, Zuckerberg seemed to admit that there have been downsides to Facebook’s emphasis on public sharing, including “child exploitation, terrorism and extortion.” He may have been pushed to this realization by the ongoing firestorm of criticism Facebook has received—not just because of the 2016 elections, but also owing to its role in promoting violence in Myanmar, India, and elsewhere. This new commitment to privacy, however, comes with tradeoffs, since a more private
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