It took about three years of privacy scandals for Facebook to initiate a move to rework its platform. At the company’s annual developer conference, F8, yesterday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the “future is private" and he outlined a number of ways in which Facebook planned to help attain that future. While Facebook’s plan focuses on private communication and reducing public content, the key lies in monetisation. The company says it will focus on communities (Facebook Groups) and reduce emphasis on its News Feed, but it hasn’t yet said how it plans to make money off that.

Private messaging, especially if encrypted, is more difficult to monetise. Facebook’s business model has always revolved around data—on users. Encryption takes that away, making it harder to monetise. On the other hand, its focus on Groups is evidently designed to better understand a user. Since people ‘choose’ the group they join, it stands to reason that they better represent their interests than clicks, reactions, etc.

Here Facebook gets the data it needs, but while that might mean better recommendations, it also means better targeted advertising. Which, in turn, can be misused, just as its News Feed was. In conclusion, while Zuckerberg really wants us to believe Facebook is committed to the privacy cause, it might all come down to how the company intends to sustain the $50 plus billion in revenues it earns every year. It’s safe to say Facebook isn’t going to give up on earning money to give us a “private living room" on the internet.

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