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

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

If you have visited China in recent years you might have discovered how difficult it is to move your channel through without WeChat, an all-purpose mobile phone application. People in China use WeChat for everything from transmitting messages to clas to reading news and opinion to ordering food to paying at vending machines to paying for a taxi. WeChat tells you situate 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 their own lives, as it is for almost 1.1 billion people.

For Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, WeChat is both his greatest challenge and the modeling for the future of his firm. Zuckerberg has long wanted Facebook to be the operating system of our 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 evacuate and confusing assurance of” pivoting to privacy”, explains Zuckerberg’s announcement on Wednesday. He expresses its determination to federate the messaging services of his three non-Facebook programmes, Instagram( 1 billion users ), WhatsApp( 1. five billion useds ), and Messenger( 1. 3 billion customers ). He would expanding the strong encryption that distinguishes WhatsApp from many other messaging business( even if they are not, significantly, from originating and encrypted potential competitors 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 assistances. Humbling 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 symbolizes the WhatsApp won’t change as numerous feared- 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 search 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 customers and originating, will still watch everything you do, will dictate what you read and see in your Newsfeed, and will feature circulars been aimed at you based on the massive surveillance organisation Facebook has built over the past decade. It will still disperse photographs of puppies and babies along with hate speech, conspiracy conjectures, and calls to genocide. It will still chip away at republic and starve journalism.

This recent announcement, with all its undue publicity about a “pivot” or a “move” dishes more of Zuckerberg’s interests. It distracts reporters and pundits from various revealings that show how brazenly Facebook manipulates and abuses its users.

For times we have been instructed to use” two-factor authentication” to secure the login process for services and pulpits. Facebook itself helps 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 sees or advertisers. Using a phone number anyone can look up a Facebook profile, and there is no way for useds to opt out. This puts people at risk for purposes of Facebook’s ability to way them. Given that identity on WhatsApp is mobile-number specific, it’s likely that our counts will be the source of more vulnerability in the future.

And last week we learned that at least 11 favourite 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 practice formerly it came to light. This was the most recent developments in a series of revelations about how Facebook tracks parties- even those who are not Facebook useds- through mobile inventions and applications. Nothing in Zuckerberg’s recent proclamation converts 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 brand-new crypto currency for its customers. WhatsApp customers could soon use the currency to prescribe meat bringings or purchase train tickets. Imagine if the 1.5 billion WhatsApp customers start transmitting coin to relatives in other countries using a money Facebook ensures and remittances Facebook authorizes. That could push away numerous unsavory services that attack high fees. It is also able to consolidate even more inexplicable world supremacy in Facebook.

The ultimate amalgamation of these pulpits under the mothership, Facebook, could effectively impede any governmental attempts to sever Instagram and WhatsApp from the company. It might take years for the European union or the United States government to muster the law foot and political will to break up Facebook. By that time Zuckerberg could plead that this new, consolidated work has shared its back-end data and core offices for too long. There would be nothing distinct to sever. Plus, Zuckerberg could argue that encrypted private contents protect users better than the only other major rival in the world, WeChat.

In the coming engagement against WeChat, Facebook can use its pledge to protect private meanings from snooping states to his advantage. TenCent, the company that offerings 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 authoritarians like Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, but it’s still not yet as dangerous as WeChat. That’s something, I suspect. And it might be enough to ensure domination for many years to come.

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

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

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