Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has published a ramble on how he thinks a "privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today's open platforms". And while its hard to find someone on the planet that is an anti-privacy advocate, is Zuckerberg really the person we trust to help build that? At least he admits Facebook doesn't "currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services". Here's what he thinks a privacy-focused social network could look like.
In the long blog post, Zuckerberg said a privacy-focused platform will be built around several principles.
Private interactions: Places where people have clear control over who can communicate with them and confidence that no one else can access what they share.
Encryption: Private communications with end-to-end encryption prevents anyone from listening in.
Reducing permanence: Only storing data for as long as it's needed.
Safety: Keeping people within the limits of what's possible in an encrypted service.
Interoperability: People should be able to communicate across networks easily and securely.
Secure data storage: Data shouldn't be stored in countries with weak records on privacy and freedom of expression.
Zuckerberg acknowledges that the journey to this will take several years and that his company doesn't enjoy a good reputation in many of these areas today. The trouble is, his business model today is founded on openness and accessibility. Improving privacy and securing data will require a significant change to how Facebook operates.
For example, if I really want control over who accesses my data and how it's used, I could block access to advertisers. For Facebook to make money from me they would either have to convince me to allow advertisers to access information about me or charge me a fee.
For what its worth - I'd pay a few bucks a month for an ad-free Facebook. And many people I've discussed this with would do the same. The question is really whether we will ever trust Facebook after the mis-deeds of the last year or so. It's going to take a lot of time for those wounds to heal.