When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says something, we typically listen. It's like a study of the human condition; comparing what he says to what's actually happening. As you probably know, it doesn't often line up.
That brings us to F8, the annual Facebook Developer's Conference that kicked off on Tuesday in San Jose, California. To get the ball rolling, Zuckerberg declared in the keynote that "the future is private." How novel.
Biggest Facebook refresh in years
First, we'll dive into the aesthetics and features. According to Zuckerberg, these changes are Facebook's biggest in 5 years.
The mobile app just got a face-lift and the redesigned experience is rolling out right now. It's better, stronger, faster ... whoops, that's the Six Million Dollar Man. Facebook says the refreshed app will be simpler, faster and more immersive. Close enough.
The app redesign, which Zuckerberg calls FB5, puts a major focus on the Groups feature and Events and less on the News Feed. It's supposed to make it easier to go from public spaces to private ones, like Groups, so it's redesigned that tab to show a personalized feed across the Groups you're in.
It's also rolling out features for different kinds of Groups, such as Health Support groups. In groups dealing with sensitive info, members can post without having their names appear. It sounds like you can be anonymous, but no word if that applies to advertisers ...
Oh, and bye-bye, blue color scheme. Now it's going to be all white. Who knows, maybe they're trying to symbolize a clean slate (we know better). Like I said, the redesigned app is rolling out now while the refreshed website is still a few months away.
Facebook's new 'commitment' to privacy
Zuckerberg says he wants Facebook to be a privacy-focused social platform. He initially wrote those sentiments in a 3,000 word blog back in March, touting the future of Facebook, privacy and fully-encrypted messages. Seriously, it was like he just discovered privacy was a thing.
Got a minute? Listen to Kim's take on Zuckerberg's blog in 60 seconds.
“I get that a lot of people aren’t sure we’re serious about this," Zuckerberg said with a nervous laugh during the Tuesday's keynote. "We don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly."
Ya think? I can't imagine why people would have that idea. Maybe it's Cambridge Analytica, scandal after scandal, poor practices in handling your data in general ... I could go on.
Other interesting tidbits from F8
The Messenger app is getting a refresh. There's also a new Messenger desktop app coming later this year to both Windows and Mac with both text and video chat features.
Shopping was also a big part of the event. Starting next week, people on Instagram can shop directly from creators without having to leave the app. You'll also soon be able pay for purchases directly through Facebook Marketplace, and ship items across the country. Watch out, eBay.
Facebook's Portal video chat device is expanding to parts of Europe this fall with end-to-end encryption. You'll also be able to ask questions, and there will be more Amazon Alexa skills added. There you have it, more living rooms Facebook doesn't need to be in.
Facebook Dating is expanding from five countries to add 14 more, but sorry to you single folks in the U.S. It's not expected here until later this year.
Facebook did, however, announce a new feature called Secret Crush where users can "explore potential romantic relationships within their own extended circle of friends." You can even express interest in up to nine of your Facebook friends! Creepy much? Yeah, can't imagine anything going wrong with that one.
Check out the full F8 keynote address here:
New Facebook(s), same risks to your data
You know Facebook's history with your data. It's been like Christmas every day for advertisers and other third-parties Facebook's invited in over the years.
You might remember Facebook also recently announced its plan to split off into two companies. One side would be more public, like a town square and the other focused on privacy, like a living room. Or maybe it should focus on the unbelievable amount of problems at hand.
Streamlined apps and new features aren't going to change Facebook's past "if it's broke, don't fix it" approach on the issues that really matter. Neither are happy PR events meant to distract from its failings.
Just because Mark Zuckerberg says he's the new champion for your privacy doesn't mean he actually is. As they say, standing in your garage doesn't make you a car.
Worst companies for data privacy? You've got to see this list
Oh so many companies turn significant profits by harvesting your data and selling it to advertisers, agencies and others. Now there's a list of the worst offenders.