On April 30, at San Jose, California, Mark Zuckerberg successfully passed Day 1 of his company’s annual developer conference F8. Amidst scandals, scrutiny, and criticism, Zuckerberg ensured to market privacy heavily while announcing his plans with Facebook and its large number of services. In the two-day event, Day 1 was all about users need a change of experience with Facebook products and how Facebook is going to prioritize privacy at every level from hereon. Along with the launching of new services and Facebook’s latest attempt at revolutionizing VR, Facebook highlighted how the platforms would now focus on increasing real connectivity between people. Let’s break down what Facebook has in place for its new fiscal year.
“The Future Is Private”, Says Mr. Zuckerberg
Facebook, at multiple occasions, has been heavily criticized and even fined for its lack of security in regard to users’ data and the regular incompetency of the company in preventing a data breach and data exposure. So, this statement from the CEO of the largest social media platform was not a surprise in the opening of F8 2019, Facebook’s annual keynote event. Zuckerberg emphasized how privacy has become a priority for everyone and stated that Facebook, in the coming years, would be a privacy-focused platform only. In a blog post shared by him a little more than a month ago, Mark pointed out six aspects of data privacy, which were, Private Interactions, End-to-End Encryption, Reducing Permanence, Interoperability, Safety, and Secure Data Storage. With these things in mind, Facebook may have finally started a journey towards ensuring user privacy.
How effective it would be is still a big question. But let’s see what Mr. Zuckerberg would integrate that into his product(s), and how he is planning to make connections more meaningful.
Encryption: Facebook’s First Promise for Ensuring Privacy
Mark Zuckerberg’s statement came as a surprising admission and a firm commitment. Referring to the court battles and scandals Facebook has been in the last year, he said, “We don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly.” He added, “We are re-plumbing the entire company’s structure to go with our privacy vision”. A clear indication that the work may have been started towards protecting us, but no one can’t be sure how much time it would take for Mr. Zuckerberg to redefine everything and successfully integrate ethics in his business model. Mark Zuckerberg has stated that the company would focus on encryption and would try to make the conversations secure between users. End-to-End Encryption across platforms might bring that change on Facebook.
Messenger Is To Be Faster and Secure: Project Lightspeed
In the F8 keynote event, changes in the Messenger platform owned by Facebook were announced. Facebook would be bringing new changes to the messenger in order to promote it along woth WhatsApp as a prominent private messaging platform. Since the platform supports private conversations with people that are your known acquaintances, Facebook now tends to focus on Messenger and lure people towards a non-public variant of communication.
Under Project Lightspeed, Messenger would be made smaller in size and would make it two times faster than it is presently. Messenger is also to have a new feature of group-watching, wherein people in group chats can watch video content altogether in real-time while discussing over it. The feature would also support group-listening of audio files for letting people enjoy music together. This is another step in increasing the users’ interest towards Messenger from the more publicized platform of main Facebook app.
To add up, Facebook would also be launching a desktop app for Messenger available on Windows and Mac platforms.
So, what becomes of the main Facebook App if Facebook would go “Heil Privacy” and brig Messenger at the forefront? Don’t Worry, there are plans in place.
Facebook Redesigns The Main Platform, And It’s Is No Longer Blue
Facebook can’t have its main platform degrade, and at the same time, it needs to make sure that it focuses on “privacy”, because, well, you know it just has to. So, Facebook revamped it White and now the traditional blue Facebook has finally bid goodbye to all of us.
Though the interface was a major attraction, Facebook presenters highlighted how the developers have promoted community interactions via prioritizing Groups. The new Interface would have a Groups panel in the right corner for driving users towards finding people with similar interests.
Why Promote Groups?
Looking closely at the design, one might notice that the News Feed does remain there, however, is now taking a lesser space on the interface and is no longer the only thing to look for on FB. With this new version called FB 5, Facebook has taken the first step into removing News Feed from FB. Facebook News Feed is a public portal and is open to all for viewing, commenting, and sharing. Due to the latest Privacy concerns, Facebook has decided to shift from News Feed to a more private medium of communication. By promoting community interactions, Facebook wants to reduce data uploaded in feeds and secure people’s experience on FB.
But is it a wise deal? Probably No.
News Feed Just Can’t Be Removed
Facebook’s entire business model runs on advertisements. And the only medium people interact with their preferred ads is the News Feed. It’s the things people share and upload on News Feed that help Facebook to filter ads for individual account holders. So, if you remove Feed, Facebook would lose a major source of income. No matter how it promotes brands in between stories and promotes community interaction, the number of advertisements and the flexibility in ad varieties that Feed offers cannot be compensated with pushing advertisements to groups or stories. So yes, Facebook has a long way before it finds a complete replacement for News Feed.
What Else FB5 Has To Offer?
To stow away imposters and to avoid further instances of data abuse on the internet, FB 5 will have a new opt-in feature called Meet New Friends. A feature embedded with your community groups as well, it would be an optional one which you can choose to tun on or off. And moreover, the new feature would only allow you to see those profiles who share communities or interests such as schools, page-preferences, workplace, etc. Plus, it’s required that the other person has the feature turned on as well to be visible on FB.
Apart from Groups, FB 5 would focus on promoting one more feature as a medium of interaction between friends. Events would be now having a separate tab, wherein you can discover events, businesses, and hangout places and plan an outing with friends. Events would be focusing on engaging people in real-time communication and convert it into private personal meetings.
With both these features, Zuckerberg is hoping to just reduce down the number of data leaks and breaches on FB and also reduce the amount of data that people put on FB servers by their activities by a considerable percentage. However, it’s too early to say how well would people respond to this new approach.
Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram To Get Merged Features: Zuckerberg’s Take On “Interoperability”
A surprising announcement was that Facebook would be merging a few features between Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and the first one among them is calling. Facebook’s Head of Consumer Products, Asha Sharma announced that though this feature is unlikely to come among users for a long while; however, chatting across platforms would be a reality sooner or later.
The merging would bring end-to-end encryption to all three platforms and would help Facebook promote what it was always meant for; communication. Facebook has been under ethical criticism over becoming a money-oriented company by focusing more on advertisements and marketplace. Doing this is probably Facebook’s approach towards regaining its lost repute and bring back its earlier worth before it collapses.
Instagram Is Now An E-Commerce Platform
Looks like Facebook has taken good care of its business model after all. To help creators and influencers grow their businesses”, Facebook would add a shopping cart in its photo-sharing platform Instagram. Instagram has helped a number of designers, artists, and other business owners to market their products and services and has led an influencer revolution across the globe.
In this new feature, the users would directly be able to see what the creators have put on sale rather than being directed to some other site. The link to the promoted product would directly lead the user to a checkout page, where the user can make the purchase.
This feature would also not be launched straight away and would be tested with prominent creators, influencers, and brands including Kylie Jenner, Elle, Vogue, and Gigi Hadid.
With this one, Facebook has ensured that it would be a direct marketplace for e-retail users by directly connecting both small and large brands and creators to the users. Following onto steps of Amazon, Facebook is eyeing for a new source of money.
Instagram Goes For Community Help
Instagram would add a new feature called Donation Sticker, which non-profits can use in their stories and help them raise funds for their respective causes. This sticker is not meant for non-profits only. In fact, normal users can also use this sticker in their story to help their supported non-profits to raise funds.
This feature seems to be another one of Facebook’s attempt to get into good ethics by promoting philanthropy and social causes.
Facebook Wanna Find You A Partner
Facebook has finally decided to expand Facebook Dating in 14 other nations. The dating app is ready to take on Tinder with its Secret Crush feature. In Secret Crus feature, you, as a user can add the names from your friend list, of the people you’re interested in. If your “Secret Crush” uses Facebook Dating, and he/she adds you to his/her own secret Crush list, FB will let you know of the match between you too.
Facebook’s new move to expand the dating app to other nations come as a direct hit to Tinder and other dating sites. This clearly indicates that Facebook is moving to newer businesses. As Tinder’s parent company Match Group experience drops in share prices, Facebook has a good chance of upscaling its promise of establishing “private and meaningful” connections.
But, won’t privacy be another issue for Facebook with its dating app? Guess, it has a lot of work to do for now.
VR: Facebook’s Gamble With Immersive Experience
In 2014, Facebook started a venture to develop VR products, starting with a collaboration with Samsung to develop Samsung Gear VR. On Day 1 of F8, Facebook announced two more VR headsets, Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest.
Facebook’s VR headset launches are a major risk to the company’s economic future. The company has faced losses at large scales due to the scandals it was caught in and now this VR business may or may not pay off. With earlier versions of Oculus as well, Facebook had to lower down the product’s prices to attract consumers. Now, both Rift S and Quest are going to cost you $399. So, no idea how they will do with the gamers when they start shipping this Spring.
Gaming is not Facebook’s forte. Facebook surely doesn’t want any financial loss especially after struggling a lot in the past year. Plus, early reviews of Rift S has been disappointing. So, it’s probably better Facebook diverts its major investments towards mainstream social media services provided by the company and leave gaming as a potential sidekick for the meanwhile.
WhatsApp Get New Business Catalogue
WhatsApp was another prominent attraction at this year’s F8 on its Day 1. WhatsApp made a move to help businesses reach their consumers more easily and attract them towards their services and products.
Zuckerberg said that WhatsApp businesses have been used by millions since its beginning and has helped them grow their small businesses. And yes, that’s true at large extent. People have been able to run a business without a website through WhatsApp Business. And now, this new Catalogue feature is a great add-on for them. Now, the small business owners would be able to make a product catalogue on their WhatsApp profiles and therefore, would directly share product images and features to their consumers in a more presentable and informative manner.
When it comes to secure connection and privacy, WhatsApp is the only platform owned by Facebook which has ensured that for all users. Maybe that was the reason Facebook launched a business-focused application in association with WhatsApp and not Messenger and Facebook Feed. Users would be able to enjoy this future shortly across the globe.
Portal: Facebook Trying To Be The King Of AR Tech.
Augmented reality is the next-gen tech and is the future of technology business. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple are all trying their hands in AR and a few months ago, Facebook also did the same with its new subsidiary called Portal. Portal represents Facebook’s branded display screens embedded with smart speakers, augmented cameras, and Amazon’s AI Alexa. The displays can be used for video chats via messenger and use Amazon applications.
Portal will now expand to Canada and UK markets and would enable users to Portal as a full replacement to Amazon Echo. Through collaboration with Amazon and integration of Alexa, Facebook plans to turn Portal into a smart home controller along with a fine tool to explore Amazon Prime and Music. Plus, Facebook is going to add Facebook Live and WhatsApp with Portal, giving the users a combined experience of both Facebook and Amazon applications, spiced up with a smart camera.
The first day of Facebook’s F8 Event had more than enough in its pocket and had introduced the new era of Facebook. After fifteen long years, Facebook is set to change user experience big time. The main app has gone through the most major changes since Facebook introduced the Timeline. With Instagram becoming a shopping cart, Facebook is planning a big-time entry into the e-commerce business. But in the ned, what Mark focused on was privacy and security. In every step, he ensured it to remind users how committed he is to protect the user experience. It seems like Facebook has invested a lot in these changes and this better have to work. Because this may be the last chance for Facebook to keep its crown over its head in the social media business.