Yesterday Mark Zuckerberg revealed his new "privacy-focused vision for social networking" in a brief manifesto which indirectly acknowledges the company's previous failures. The vision is based on a privacy-centric platform the company claims will be built openly and in consultation with experts across various fields. Presumably this is all after it's finished doing everything it can to fight privacy laws.

The post claims to be authored by the 'Zucc himself, and it's a delightful mix of slightly confused metaphors and a revisionist narrative painting Facebook as a champion for privacy even as it acknowledges its repeated failures. (I'm not kidding, it's amazing in a very 2019 sense.)

Zuckerberg at least has the self-awareness to acknowledge this announcement could be seen as ironic:

I understand that many people don't think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform -- because frankly we don't currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we've historically focused on tools for more open sharing. But we've repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.

According to the details of this announcement, the new platform will be founded on six basic, inconsistently capitalized, occasionally redundant principles:

  • Private interaction
  • Encryption
  • Reducing Permanence
  • Safety
  • Interoperability
  • Secure data storage

The most interesting of these from a product standpoint is interoperability, in which Facebook outlines further cross-service communications for its various products, like sending an SMS over Facebook Messenger reaching your buddy via encryption over WhatsApp, etc. Most of the other principles are more generalized ideals, painting a picture that balances legal and moral requirements with customer security and privacy as Facebook works to redevelop its products with those concerns in mind.

The company plans to rebuild at least some of services around this new platform "over the next few years" with repeated reference to cooperating with and seeking advice from privacy and security experts during the process.

It's okay to laugh, it's hard not to.