Mark Zuckerberg has announced Facebook’s new vision: it’s going to draw the curtains. In other words, Facebook is trying to turn its public forums into private ones. The new Facebook plans to integrate its three networks—WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook as we know it—into a single social network. They plan to encrypt all message traffic end-to-end, so not even Facebook can read it.
These changes come in response to the onslaught of negative publicity in the last two years, which has seen everything from the Cambridge Analytica scandal to promiscuous sharing of personal data to unscrupulous opposition research. But don’t expect closing the curtains to change what the network does behind them.
Facebook’s new network should look like a cross between Gmail, Slack, and Instagram: places for sharing relatively personal and sensitive information rather than for broadcasting opinions and attracting followers. In Zuckerberg’s words, the focus will be on “private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups.” There will still be space for celebrity channels and professional, corporate public spaces, but they will not be the norm and they will be carefully policed.