Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has revealed his vision to shift the social network more towards private messaging, outlining how encryption and integrated messaging across Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp could work.
As the public becomes more cautious about privacy, the chief executive foresees a change in the company’s services, with growing numbers of people currently turning to closed communication such as private messaging, short-lasting stories that expire within 24 hours and small groups.
“I believe 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,” he explained.
“This is the future I hope we will help bring about.”
The 34-year-old spelled out the social network’s plans to make it possible to securely send and receive messages between its platforms including Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as SMS, in a bid to make it more convenient for users. However, he admitted there are “significant challenges”.
“We want to give people a choice so they can reach their friends across these networks from whichever app they prefer,” he continued, emphasising that such a move would be opt-in.
Mr Zuckerberg also shared that he wants to help reduce permanence on the social network, by allowing people to use features that only share content for a certain amount of time, much like the Stories feature it already uses, which expire within 24-hours.
While some people like to keep a record of their lives, he explained, many have also built up a collection of photos on Facebook from when they were younger that they could find embarrassing if dug up again.
“Messages could be deleted after a month or a year by default,” he suggested. “This would reduce the risk of your messages resurfacing and embarrassing you later.”
The Facebook chief executive said there would be “a lot more details and trade-offs to work through” but would work with governments and experts on its plans.
Mr Zuckerberg’s words come amid increased scrutiny over the social network’s handling of user data, following a spate of issues ranging from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to misinformation.
The government is preparing to release a white paper on online harms, which is expected to include some form of regulation on social networks.