Saturday, March 9, 2019

Facebook Offers New Messaging Service!

Everything Old is New Again!

(Menlo Park, California) In the most recent Facebook blog post, Mark Zuckerberg has waxed lyrical about his ‘vision’ for the mammoth social networking and messaging platform, promising a “privacy-focused” future for the service and announcing a number of changes that he intends to eventually implement.

According to the post, Zuckerberg has been doing some thinking about the nature of the internet and the increasingly significant role that privacy plays in online interactions. It could be argued that this thinking has been provoked by the privacy breaches and user data-related incidents afflicting Facebook in recent times – it’s likely not a coincidence that the one year anniversary of the breaking of the Cambridge Analytica scandal is coming up.

Nevertheless, the post mentions the increasing popularity of “private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups” in online social networks, attributing it to a growing caution of permanent online records, and the desire to connect more immediately with friends, family and relevant groups. As such, Facebook will be looking to build a “simpler platform that’s focused on privacy first”, and it hopes to achieve this with a similar approach it took to its development of WhatsApp: ”focus on the most fundamental and private use case – messaging – make it as secure as possible, and then build more ways for people to interact on top of that”.

This new "simpler platform" will allow users to create a "contacts list" similar to their friend lists of the past.  Each "contact" will have a "mail address" which will allow the user to send private messages to that "contact" or to a group of contacts.  The messages may be formatted in something called "HTML" -  a text-formatting language which Facebook is also developing.

Users may even attach photos, video, or documents to each message! Messages can be stored in an "inbox" or put into a number of "folders" or may be deleted at the discretion of the user.  The public need not see the content of these messages, unless the user "forwards" them to others. As a result, private information, formerly on a user's "wall" will be kept private.

To prevent abuse of the system, Facebook is developing something called a "SPAM filter" which will eliminate unwanted messages from third parties, or messages deemed fraudulent. Facebook developers haven't yet announced when this new technology will become available, or what the new service will be called.   Some preliminary ideas are to call it "electronic mail" or "e-mail" but no final decision has yet been made.

Rollout of this new "e-mail" technology is expected in the latter half of 2021.