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1. What you need to know about Facebook’s privacy shift (and what we don’t know)

An image of Mark Zuckerberg standing in front of a backdrop that says "Data Privacy" in large letters. Anthony Quintano

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg delivered a 3,238 word missive to tell us that Facebook is set to embrace privacy. Facebook will become a privacy-focused platform.

The six areas of new privacy focus are as follows, and quoted from the post (note Zuckerberg’s use of “people” instead of “users”):

  1. Private interactions: “People should have simple, intimate places where they have clear control over who can communicate with them and confidence that no one else can access what they share.”
  2. Encryption “People’s private communications should be secure. End-to-end encryption prevents anyone — including us — from seeing what people share on our services.”
  3. Reducing Permanence: “People should be comfortable being themselves, and should not have to worry about what they share coming back to hurt them later.”
  4. Safety: “People should expect that we will do everything we can to keep them safe on our services within the limits of what’s possible in an encrypted service.”
  5. Interoperability: “People should be able to use any of our apps to reach their friends, and they should be able to communicate across networks easily and securely.”
  6. Secure data storage: “People should expect that we won’t store sensitive data in countries with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression in order to protect data from being improperly accessed.”

Zuckerberg goes into great detail in the above. Make no mistake, it will take years to pivot.

Thought bubbles:

  • It’s easy to scorn Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, and much of the internet has done so after this post. It’s not like that isn’t deserved, either.
  • Of course Facebook would pivot to private now, after it accumulated data from 2.3 billion users over a decade and a half, and made out like bandits along the way
  • And remember, Zuckerberg has always valued his privacy, while his platform has encouraged mass sharing and won’t even allow you to opt-out of being targeted or searched by the very phone number it demanded for 2FA (CNET).
  • Reading the whole post though, it is sincere and thoughtful. It’s meaningful; with a pathway and detail about future plans. It’s clear this would be a monumental upheaval.
  • Now, it doesn’t address all concerns.
  • It may well just be Facebook throwing in the towel before it is regulated, too.
  • And the note doesn’t really ever say: we, more than any other company, have caused these outcomes.
  • It may also be far too late for those that have either left Facebook temporarily or permanently over the issues.

Aside from those important concerns, the biggest unknowns are what this does to Facebook’s business model, which is advertising:

  • How does the company that earned $55 billion in revenue from advertising in 2018 still operate as a “private-platform” business?
  • Facebook’s big advantage in advertising is its ability to precisely target consumers with an incredible depth of data, which is increasingly what people don’t like.
  • But its stock price didn’t move on the announcement.
  • It may aid Facebook’s move into cryptocurrency and payments, as it attempts to replace ad revenue before that is wound back.

PS. Don’t miss the shot at Apple and its iCloud service about secure data storage.

  • Quote “…we’ve chosen not to build data centers in countries that have a track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression.”

2. Tim Apple. The president just called the CEO of Apple ‘Tim Apple’ (The Verge).


3. Huawei is suing the US government. It claims Section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act is unconstitutional and wants a court to decide (Huawei release). I’m not a lawyer, but remember a few weeks back when Apple left the Eastern District of Texas because it’s the largely rural district that has curiously patent-friendly courts? That’s where Huawei’s US HQ is based, and where it is suing. Credit to Ars Technica for never missing a beat on the Eastern District thing.


4. By the way, unmistakably, Huawei executives read their prepared statements from the company’s Mate X foldable phone (AA).


5. Here’s why the Galaxy Fold design is better than Mate X, according to Samsung executive (AA).


6. The Google Duplex AI calling future we want is rolling out further: now available in 43 states, coming to non-Pixel devices soon (AA).


7. Microsoft is making Windows Calculator open source. A big deal for developers who want to learn how to build a great native Windows application (Windows blog).


8. Apple deserves kudos for doing right by workers (Bloomberg).


9. Steinway releases high-tech piano that records your performance (CNET).


10. Parisian residents demand gates to keep Instagrammers off their colorful street (City Lab).


11. Tesla announced V3 Supercharging at 250kW peak power, coming in Q2. That means about 1,000 miles for every hour of charging. As expected it’s for Model 3 EVs only at this stage, but V2 Supercharging is now also about 25kW faster at peak delivery, plus other improvements (Tesla).


12. NASA is trying to figure out sonic booms that happen as the speed of sound barrier is crossed, and just happened to catch brilliant and glorious images as well (NASA). “We never dreamt that it would be this clear, this beautiful.”


 

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