Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday said the company was committed to building a "privacy-focussed" social platform to ensure that conversations stay private and user data is secure across its products like Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.
Speaking at its flagship event F8 here, he acknowledged thatthere are privacy concerns related to its platforms, but asserted that heremains committed to bringing in changes and "starting a newchapter".
"As the world gets bigger and more connected, we needthat sense of intimacy more than ever. So that is why I believe the future isprivate," Zuckerberg said.
"This is the next chapter for our services… We don'texactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly.But I'm committed to doing this well and starting a new chapter for ourproduct," he said.
More than 5,000 developers, creators and entrepreneurs fromacross the world are participating at this year's edition of F8 – Facebook'sannual technology conference.
Facebook, which has drawn flak globally over many instancesof data breaches, is re-hauling its main platform as well as introducing newfeatures across its family of apps.
Zuckerberg outlined that the vision is based on sixprinciples – private interactions, encryption, reducing permanence, safety,interoperability and secure data storage – across features like privatemessaging, groups, payments, and even location sharing.
"…If we get this right, using all of these servicesis going to be a fundamentally different experience a few years from now. Atthe end of the day, it's not just about building new products, it's a majorshift in how we run this company because we believe that for the future, peoplewant a privacy-focussed social platform," he added.
He explained that the intention is to build in the toolsthat "we need to keep us safe from the beginning and prevent harm and wethen are able to focus on all the good people are able to do – both in privateand in public, both the living room and the town squares".
Facebook, which counts India as among its biggest markets,has also been ramping up efforts to ensure that its platform are not misused tospread misinformation.
As part of its efforts to bring in transparency as electionsprogress in India, Facebook has started providing details of political ads onits platform. It is also strengthening its team of fact checkers and deployingtechnology tools to flag fake news.
Ahead of the general elections, the Indian government hadwarned social media platforms of strong action if any attempt was made toinfluence the country's electoral process through undesirable means.
Talking about the changes being made, Zuckerberg said afresh design for the social networking platform is being rolled out globally.
Terming it 'FB5', Zuckerberg said the new design is simpler,faster, more immersive and puts communities at the centre. People will startseeing some of these updates in the Facebook app right away, and the newdesktop site will come in the next few months.
It will also introduce a new feature 'Secret Crush' inFacebook Dating that is currently available in a few geographies. The newopt-in feature will allow users to discover potential matches within their ownFacebook communities. He/she can select up to nine friends from their list andif any of these people (who also use Facebook Dating) puts the user's name intheir own list, it will be a match.
Facebook Dating is currently available in Colombia,Thailand, Canada, Argentina, and Mexico, and is now being expanded to 14 newcountries. This includes Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos,Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana, and Suriname.
The US-based company is also working on re-building thearchitecture of 'Messenger' from the ground up to be faster and lighter and itwill begin to roll out later this year. Besides, it will also make it easierfor businesses to connect with potential customers by adding lead generationtemplates to Ads Manager.
For WhatsApp – which has its biggest userbase in India- anew catalogue feature is being added for Business users to help small andmedium enterprises using the platform to showcase their goods.
Zuckerberg said the payments feature on WhatsApp – currentlybeing tested in India with about one million users – will be rolled out in someother countries by the end of the year.