Anirudh RegidiMay 01, 2019 15:28:16 IST
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the F8 developer conference keynote yesterday with a statement that I think he thinks is rather bold: Facebook’s future is private.
“I get that a lot of people aren’t sure if we’re serious about this”, he adds with his creepy smile and what I guess he thinks passes for a self-deprecatory snigger, “I know that we don’t have the strongest reputation right now when it comes to privacy, to put it lightly.” Uh, yeah, you don’t.
Zuckerberg’s plan for Facebook revolves around a future where everyone is communicating privately with each other via end-to-end encrypted apps and services. Facebook, the purveyor of all this encrypted goodness, will leverage its vast reach and resources to deliver us this happy (Hah!), private world.
Ignorance is bliss
Zuckerberg has consistently and shamelessly lied about every privacy violation his company’s been responsible for, and the company’s reputation for being truly and utterly tone-deaf is also well earned.
Facebook, the company that will purportedly unite the world, is the one that played a significant role in dividing it to begin with. From algorithms that promote outrage and hate speech to offering support to genocidal dictators, Facebook has done it all. This is the company that gave away our data for the asking, allowed advertisers and malicious parties to manipulate us at scale, and managed to get rid of anyone who had objections to how Facebook goes about making money.
Despite the lies, the tone-deaf attitude, genocidal dictators and even Cambridge Analytica, people continue to use Facebook and its services. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are, even by themselves, behemoths in the social media world. They continue to be the most used social media and communications platforms around.
And that success has nothing to do with Facebook’s stance on privacy, real or imagined.
Who is Zuckerberg trying to convince with his spiel?
Facebook users? As mentioned earlier, they really don’t care.
Businesses and companies who spend money on Facebook? They only care about public opinion and if their money is being well spent. With billions of users on Facebook’s various services, they’re going to stay a while. If they’re naïve enough to believe that Zuck’s speech changes things, then yeah, it’s for them.
Facebook’s investors and shareholders? Maybe, but these are people who, again, will only really care about their investment. As long as people are using Facebook and the company is making money, the how of it is hardly relevant. The few who do care about what Facebook is doing must know that building a ‘privacy-focussed Facebook’ isn’t really a solution.
Himself? Whatever else we might say about Zuckerberg, he’s one of the richest men in the world and heads what is, arguably, one of the biggest, most powerful companies in the world. He’s certainly not a fool and is quite aware of what he’s doing. And anyway, someone who’s self-aware enough to say this…
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don't know why.
Zuck: They "trust me"
Zuck: Dumb fucks
… can’t really be that delusional.
So, who is he trying to convince?
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