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Zuckerberg Announces Facebook Shift, Critics Wary

He promises a 'privacy-friendly' Facebook
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 7, 2019 1:00 AM CST
In this Jan. 9, 2019 photo, a man checks his phone inside Facebook's new 130,000-square-foot offices, which occupy the top three floors of a 10-story Cambridge, Mass. building.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
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(Newser) – Facebook, which grew into a colossus by vacuuming up your information in every possible way and using it to target ads back at you, now says its future lies in privacy-oriented messaging that Facebook itself can't read. Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO, announced the shift in a Wednesday blog post apparently intended to blunt both criticism of the company's data handling and potential antitrust action. Going forward, he said, Facebook will emphasize giving people ways to communicate in truly private fashion, with their intimate thoughts and pictures shielded by encryption in ways that Facebook itself can't read.

But Zuckerberg didn't suggest any changes to Facebook's core newsfeed-and-groups-based service, or to Instagram's social network, currently the fastest growing part of the company. Facebook pulls in gargantuan profits by selling ads targeted using the information it amasses on its users and others they know, and critics aren't convinced Zuckerberg is committed to meaningful change, the AP reports. "This does nothing to address the ad targeting and information collection about individuals," said Jen King, director of consumer privacy at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society. "It's great for your relationship with other people. It doesn't do anything for your relationship with Facebook itself."

(Read more Facebook stories.)

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