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Facebook has decided to pivot from being a "town square" to a "living room" after realizing nobody likes hanging out with an entire village full of idiots. Facebook still wants to be the de facto place for sharing ugly baby pictures and screaming half-baked political opinions, it just wants to limit its liability when some nut rants about murdering Jews and Muslims. Instead of being forced to become the cyber police, Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook will begin focusing on private chat systems to protect people -- even though he's spent the majority of his life as a man-child taking a dump all over other people's privacy.

In a lengthy, hypocritical, and jargon filled declaration, Zuckerberg says Facebook will (finally) embrace end-to-end encryption protocols. According to Zuckerberg, private messaging and small group communications are growing rapidly, and Facebook needs to stay hip. In a world where government officials are suddenly embarrassed by old photos of themselves dressed in black face at college parties, Zuckerberg feels like it's time for Facebook to evolve. So saith The Zuck:


Many people prefer the intimacy of communicating on-on-one or with just a few friends. People are more cautious of having a permanent record of what they've shared. And we all expect to be able to do things like payments privately and securely ... I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won't stick around forever.

Zuckerberg's sudden epiphany on privacy is laughable bullshit. Facebook's entire business model is centered around sucking up user data to sell ads -- and access to user data. Zuckerberg himself has spent the last 15 years actively sabotaging privacy advocates and pushing users to share increasing amounts of personal information on his platform. Facebook's privacy controls are notoriously bad, and for over a year Facebook has promised a "clear history" tool that still hasn't materialized. It's as if Zuckerberg is apologizing for the one millionth time, like he did after Cambridge Analytica, and the Nazis in Charlottesville, and Russian trolls, and to Congress, and the "pivot to video," and in a dozen op-eds -- swearing up and down that Facebook would get better at protecting its users only to catastrophically fuck us all over. Again.

Zuckerberg only cares about privacy when he's personally involved. In 2007, he sued to stop the publication of documents that ALLEGEDLY showed he stole the source code for Facebook from other students at Harvard in 2003. When his his own private photos were leaked to Gawker in 2009, Zuckerberg tried to brush it off by encouraging people to share intimate moments using the fuckbungled privacy system that caused his photos to be plastered all over random News Feeds. In 2014, Facebook purposely created a system to delete Zuckerberg's own messages and never bothered to tell anyone at Facebook until an employee noticed Zuckerberg's response in old conversations were oddly deleted. And who can forget that time his ancient college messages were leaked to a Silicon Valley gossip blog that showed him bragging about hoarding user info.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Friend]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don't know why.
Zuck: They "trust me"
Zuck: Dumb fucks.

In his decree, Zuckerberg says Facebook will give users the option to encrypt and self-destruct their messages, adding that it would also refuse to build servers in countries with oppressive regimes that have a bad human rights record. Facebook's complacency in an ongoing genocide aside, Buzzfeed notes this will probably keep Zuckerberg from his dream of breaking into China, but the Chinese don't even use Facebook (they use WeChat, Renren and Weibo, so who cares). Government and security geeks were quick to note that Facebook's adoption of end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages will create an entire host of new problems, like tracking misinformation campaigns and giving bad actors easier access to secure communications tools that law enforcement agencies can't read (like the 2015 San Bernardino shooters). And with Facebook's track record on privacy so historically abysmal, journalists and privacy advocates are skeptical of what Facebook will do with even more supposedly private chat logs.

Facebook bled a staggering 15 million US users last year according to a recently published study, but its other products, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, are all doing great. In his screed, Zuckerberg talks about combining all four platforms and adding an e-payment system so you can buy crap on Facebook's Marketplace. The Verge's Casey Newton supposes Zuckerberg is likely trying to fend off looming antitrust fights in the EU and the US by arguing all these apps are part of the same ecosystem, like Ma Bell but with self-destructing dick pics and credit cards. Since Facebook's stock price barely took a hit, its shareholders either don't understand or don't care the company is upending its entire business as a data broker for the ad companies, politicians, fake news peddlers, stalkers, and scammers who micro-target gullible grandmas. While none of this is good, nor bad, this is Mark Zuckerberg we're talking about, and there's clearly no good that can come of this.

[Facebook / ReCode / The Verge / WaPo / Marketplace]

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or lying in a gutter taking photos.

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