Facebook’s brand-new move isn’t about privacy. It’s about dominance | Siva Vaidhyanathan

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Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday that Facebook would be pivoting to privacy. Thats an empty pledge

If you have visited China in recent years you might have discovered how difficult it is to realise your style through without WeChat, an all-purpose mobile phone application. People in China use WeChat for everything from communicating themes to kinfolk to speak news and opinion to ordering food to paying at vending machines to paying for a taxi. WeChat lets you lodge money in your bank, sought for a library work, make a medical appointment, conduct business conference calls, and interact with the government. In China, WeChat is the operating system of your life, as it is for almost 1.1 billion people.

For Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, WeChat is both his greatest challenge and the model for the future of his firm. Zuckerberg has long wanted Facebook to be the operating system of “peoples lives”- at least for those who live outside of China. WeChat is what Facebook has yet to become. WeChat, should it move beyond China and its diaspora, is also the greatest threat to Facebook’s global domination.

This, better than any exhaust and confusing pledge of” pivoting to privacy”, justifies Zuckerberg’s announcement on Wednesday. He expressed their commitment to unite the messaging works of his three non-Facebook programmes, Instagram( 1 billion customers ), WhatsApp( 1. 5 billion consumers ), and Messenger( 1. 3 billion users ). He would expanding the strong encryption that recognise WhatsApp from many other messaging services( although not, vastly, from changing and encrypted potential challengers like Telegram and Signal) to the other two platforms and allow content to move easily among them.

Facebook hopes to draw those who use vie services like Telegram, Signal, Skype, Google’s Hangouts( formerly known as GChat ), Apple’s IMessage, or classic SMS to Facebook’s various and soon-to-be-united messaging services. Humiliating all those apps, along with email and old-fashioned phone calls, would be a major step toward becoming the operating system of our lives.

Basically, this announcement represents the WhatsApp won’t change as many horror- abandoning encryption and becoming more like Messenger. Instead, Messenger will become more like WhatsApp. This would be the first step toward unifying these services to work and ogle a lot more like- and thus prepared to compete against- WeChat.

Despite all the hype, Zuckerberg said nothing about changing Facebook itself. Facebook, with 2.3 billion consumers and growing, will still watch everything you do, will dictate what you read and see in your Newsfeed, and will feature advertisements were aimed at you based on the massive surveillance method Facebook has built over the past decade. It will still give photographs of puppies and newborns along with hate speech, scheme possibilities, and calls to genocide. It will still chip away at republic and starve journalism.

This recent announcement, with all its unjustified publicity about a “pivot” or a “move” suffices more of Zuckerberg’s interests. It confuses columnists and reviewers from several revealings that show how brazenly Facebook employs and abuses its users.

For years we have been instructed to use” two-factor authentication” to secure the login process for services and pulpits. Facebook itself promotes us to have it send a message to our mobile phones to confirm that we are who we say we are before logging in. But Facebook does not protect your number from prying seeings or advertisers. Using a phone number anyone can look up a Facebook profile, and there is no way for users to opt out. This puts parties at risk for the sake of Facebook’s ability to line them. Given that identity on WhatsApp is mobile-number specific, it’s likely that our numbers will be the source of more vulnerability in the future.

And last week we learned that at least 11 popular health applications were sharing extremely sensitive personal data with Facebook through mobile phones. At least one busines, Flo Period and Ovulation Tracker, decided to cease that pattern formerly it came to light. This was the latest in a series of disclosures about how Facebook tracks people- even those who are not Facebook useds- through mobile designs and applications. Nothing in Zuckerberg’s recent notice reforms this.

Beyond abuses, Facebook has another plan to make itself essential to the daily lives of people around the world. It plans to create a new crypto money for its customers. WhatsApp consumers could soon use the currency to guild meat bringings or obtain develop tickets. Imagine if the 1.5 billion WhatsApp customers start casting money to relatives in other countries using a money Facebook restrains and payments Facebook permits. That could push away numerous unsavory assistances that cost high fees. It could also consolidate even more inexplicable global supremacy in Facebook.

The eventual unification of these pulpits under the mothership, Facebook, could effectively block any governmental attempts to sever Instagram and WhatsApp from the company. It might take times for the European Union or the United Nation government to muster the legal footing and political will to break up Facebook. By that time Zuckerberg could plead that this new, combined service has shared its back-end data and core operates for too long. There would be nothing distinct to sever. Plus, Zuckerberg could argue that encrypted private themes protect users better than the only other major rival in the world countries, WeChat.

In the coming battle against WeChat, Facebook can use its pledge to protect private letters from snooping states to his advantage. TenCent, the company that presents WeChat, is very close to the government of the People’s Republic of China and WeChat consumers assume their communication is subject to state surveillance. Facebook might collaborate with brutal dictatorials like Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, but it’s still not yet as dangerous as WeChat. That’s something, I predict. And it might be enough to ensure domination for many years to come.

For too long, “weve had” take Mark Zuckerberg at his parole. Too many times he has deluded us. Let’s not fall for it again. This move is not about protecting you. It’s about overcoming other companies and consolidating world power.

Siva Vaidhyanathan is the Robertson Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

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