Facebook rolls out major redesign at developers conference

Facebook’s F8 developer conference begins

  • At Facebook’s F8 developers conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “The future is private.”
  • Accordingly, Facebook is emphasizing more private ways for Facebook users to communicate.
  • As Facebook shifts to more private messaging, it plans to increase businesses’ ability to sell directly to its more than 2.2 billion users.

Facebook is rolling out a major redesign of its mobile app and introducing a desktop app for its Messenger service as the internet giant tries to recover from a series of privacy breakdowns this past year. Speaking at Facebook’s annual F8 developers conference on Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the new design would make it easier for the social network’s more than 2.2 billion users to find other people with common interests by connecting through its groups features.

The new option to communicate through a Messenger app designed for personal computers is part of Zuckerberg’s plan to emphasize more private ways for Facebook users to communicate instead of encouraging them to share everything on their personal pages.

Messenger will eventually use encryption technology that will make content indecipherable to anyone but the sender and recipients, Zuckerberg said. That’s similar to what Facebook’s WhatsApp service already does.

“The future is private,” Zuckerberg declared at the conference. The CEO told investors last week he expects privacy to be “a central focus for the company for the next five years or longer.”

“Unearthing old issues”

Facebook’s slipshod handling of user data could result in a fine of up to $5 billion from the Federal Trade Commission, the company revealed last week. Zuckerberg alluded to these troubles at F8, saying “I’m sure we’re going to keep unearthing old issues for a while.”

For now, the company continues to run a highly profitable business built on collecting personal information from its users so it can sell ads targeted to their interests. As it shifts into more private messaging, it plans to increase businesses’ ability to sell directly to Facebook users, Zuckerbers told investors.

Some 40 million businesses currently use Messenger, ZDNet reported.

–The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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