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PUTTING PRIVACY IRST? Facebook boss announces a host of changes to his social media platforms.

Byline: tech now With Justin Connolly

MARK ZUCKERBERG doesn't strike me as the kind of chap that suffers from bouts of self-doubt, and this week he was pretty insistent he was absolutely sure of two things.

Firstly, that the future of Facebook is "privacy". And secondly that he was the man to deliver that future for Facebook's two billion users.

I, on then other hand, have regular bouts of doubt - not about myself, but about whether any of us should be trusting Facebook with any of our private information given their track record of playing fast and loose with it in the not-too-distant past.

So, forgive me for not being entirely convinced by Zuckerberg's recent "pivot to privacy", which he fleshed out in a little more detail at Facebook's F8 conference this week.

So, what did he actually say? Well, there was a lot of talk of privacy, and then he mentioned privacy, then he talked a little bit more about privacy.

Eventually, we got the point. In terms of real things happening, there was some information about changes to Facebook, and its other apps: Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

FACEBOOK REDESIGN THE main Facebook app and web presence is getting a significant redesign, reducing the focus on the news feed, and placing groups at the centre of everything.

The apps are much simpler in appearance, and also offer a "dark mode" on the web version.

The Groups tab is getting a redesign, and Facebook is saying it will become a lot easier to find groups you want to become a part of. Groups, it seems, will be as important in the new world as Friends. Although better ways to find new friends are also promised.

Finally, the new Facebook will expand its shopping and dating features - a new Secret Crush feature will allow you to create a private list of friends you have a crush on and if you're on their list too, you'll be notified.

The redesign is out now in the US, and coming elsewhere very soon.

MESSENGER THE app is being rebuilt to be smaller in size and faster to start-up, using less bandwidth and battery.

And work is under way to make messages encrypted from end to end by default, so no one but you and the intended recipient can read them.

Messenger will also be redesigned to bring a second tab that gathers together stories, messages, and memories from your closest friends and family, to create a kind of mini private network. There was also a suggestion that a new service will allow you to watch video together with friends within the app.

Facebook also revealed a new desktop app for Messenger is on the way, so you can use the service from your computer as well as your phone and tablet.

INSTAGRAM is getting a revamped camera, with a new way to share even if you don't have an image or some video - create mode lets you build a post with words, emojis and other graphics.

There will also be some new ways to discourage bullying on the platform, although they were vague and seemingly without any launch date.

The least exciting new feature in Instagram is the ability to buy things with a single click that have been tagged in posts by "influencers, celebrities, and athletes". Sounds awful.

WhatsApp. WHATSAPP is encrypted from end-to-end, so it already ticks the privacy box.

Facebook has been testing a system where users can make payments to each other from within the app in India, and revealed the system would roll out to other countries soon.

OCULUS TWO new VR headsets were also revealed at F8 - a new upgraded version of the Rift (which requires a computer) and the first stand-alone VR headset from Facebook - the Oculus Quest, which has no wires and is used completely independently to any other device (although you can connect it wirelessly to other devices so others can see into the game you're playing). You can order these now for PS399/PS499 for delivery later this month.

IT all sounded quite convincing, I have to admit, and if Facebook is true to its word that privacy is going to be central to the whole thing, then there can be no doubt the world will be a better place.

Given that Facebook is a company that literally makes its money by exploiting your personal data to better target advertising, how will that work in the new private world? Where is the money going to come from? We'll have to wait for an answer.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 4, 2019
Words:769
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