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 vacate pledge

If you have visited China in recent years you might have discovered how difficult it is to shape your path through without WeChat, an all-purpose mobile phone application. People in China use WeChat for everything from mailing messages to pedigree to decipher word and opinion to ordering food to paying at vending machines to paying for a taxi. WeChat tells you situate money in your bank, search for a library journal, 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 example for the future of his corporation. Zuckerberg has long craved 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 world domination.

This, better than any evacuate and distracting assurance of” pivoting to privacy”, interprets Zuckerberg’s announcement on Wednesday. He expressed their commitment to unite the messaging services of his three non-Facebook stages, Instagram( 1 billion users ), WhatsApp( 1. 5 billion users ), and Messenger( 1. 3 billion consumers ). He would expanding the strong encryption that distinguishes WhatsApp from many other messaging works( although not, greatly, 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 compete business 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. Suppressing 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 entails the WhatsApp won’t change as many 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 useds and changing, will still watch everything you do, will prescribe what you read and see in your Newsfeed, and will boast circulars were aimed at you based on the massive surveillance structure Facebook has built over the past decade. It will still give photographs of puppies and children along with hate speech, plot theories, and calls to genocide. It will still chip away at democracy and starve journalism.

This recent announcement, with all its unjustified publicity about a “pivot” or a “move” dishes more of Zuckerberg’s interests. It confuses writers and reviewers from various disclosures that show how brazenly Facebook manipulates and abuses its users.

For years we have been instructed to use” two-factor authentication” to secure the login process for services and programmes. 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 levering sees or advertisers. Using a phone number anyone can look up a Facebook profile, and there is no way for consumers to opt out. This applies beings at risk for the sake of Facebook’s ability to track them. Given that identity on WhatsApp is mobile-number specific, it’s likely that our numerals 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 service, Flo Period and Ovulation Tracker, decided to cease that rehearse formerly it came to light. This was the latest in a series of shows about how Facebook tracks parties- even those who are not Facebook consumers- through mobile designs and applications. Nothing in Zuckerberg’s recent bulletin 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 currency for its useds. WhatsApp consumers could soon use the currency to tell nutrient gives or acquisition instruct tickets. Imagine if the 1.5 billion WhatsApp useds start casting coin to relatives in other countries utilizing a money Facebook controls and fees Facebook licenses. That could push away numerous unsavory business that indictment high fees. It had the opportunity to consolidate even more unaccountable global influence in Facebook.

The eventual unification of these programmes 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 Commonwealth government to muster the law organization and political will to break up Facebook. By that time Zuckerberg could allege that this new, merged work has shared its back-end data and core performs 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 words 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 autocratics like Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, but it’s still not yet as dangerous as WeChat. That’s something, I guess. And it might be enough to ensure domination for many years to come.

For too long, we have go Mark Zuckerberg at his term. 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 Studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

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