It is unclear if Facebook will be able to change course and be trusted as a "privacy-focused" platform, considering the raft of privacy and data controversies it has faced over the years.
Reports of Facebook’s plans to integrate its messaging platforms surfaced in January, but the newly revealed details confirm the plan and suggest that the social media giant could be redefining how people use the platform to interact and communicate by focusing more on private interactions versus broadcasting messages out to a wide group. The news marks a shift in positioning for Facebook, which has been reportedly lobbying against tougher privacy laws around the world.
Zuckerberg didn’t address how the change would affect advertising revenue, which will be an important part of how the platform moves forward. Facebook makes the lion’s share of money by serving ads based on the data it collects about users across its suite of platforms. Facebook’s growth has already been decelerating for the past few quarters. Marketers could focus more on chatbots, which could operate more seamlessly across the platforms, even though the format didn’t take off on Messenger. Voice is another area where marketers could invest more in the combined messaging platform. However, making user-generated content more private and ephemeral will no doubt make advertising on the platforms more difficult and complicated when it comes to reaching the kind of scale that marketers are used to on Facebook.
The “privacy-focused” shift is part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts to improve privacy on the platform, as the company has faced increased scrutiny following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook is also possibly facing a record-setting fine from the Federal Trade Commission for violating a government agreement to protect users’ privacy data. Connecting Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger could also bring up more antitrust concerns.
It is unclear if Facebook will be able to change course and be trusted as a “privacy-focused” platform, considering the raft of privacy and data controversies it has faced over the years.