Facebook unveils new privacy features – but is it too late?

What happened? 

Facebook used its annual F8 developer conference (www .f8.com) to unveil a range of new features, many of which focused on privacy. The move follows a year of negative press for the company, from the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal to a security breach that affected 50 million users, as well as wider concerns about the impact of social media on mental health and children. So it’s no wonder CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg started his talk at the conference with an apology: “I know that we don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly”. How sincere he was remains to be seen, although it didn’t help that he delivered that line while laughing. Besides vague pledges to take privacy more seriously and a promise to work with regulators, Facebook unveiled plans to give users greater privacy. Notably, Facebook’s chat app Messenger will get end-to-end encryption by default, following the lead of WhatsApp, which Facebook bought in 2014. However, the proposed privacy changes were announced amid fresh accusations of data breaches, including reports that Facebook workers have sifted through millions of users’ posts and photos as part of artificialintelligence training.

How will it affect you? 

The shift to end-to-end encryption means Facebook won’t be able to see what you write in messages you send to other Messenger users. It will still, of course, continue to keep a profile of you to target you with ads, particularly on Instagram and using Facebook’s Stories tool, which lets users post short videos and images that disappear after a day. As well as privacy changes, Facebook introduced a feature called Secret Crushes that lets users see if their friends fancy them. So far, the tool isn’t available in the UK or US, and it’s unclear if it ever will be. Another new feature, Meet New Friends, uses profile data to find would-be friends who share interests or mutual connections. The company also suggested that the Facebook Portal video-chat device will reach Europe this autumn, offering WhatsApp-based calls and encryption.