After unveiling a new circular logo with a predominately white app design, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a major shift in the app’s operations, announcing that “the future is private.” Zuckerberg hopes to make Facebook more privacy-centric, after acknowledging the company’s weak privacy reputation.
A rocky past year with continuous scandals about privacy, security and hate speech has pushed Facebook to focus on security going forward. This will be achieved through 6 different avenues; private interaction, encryption, safety, reduced permanence (content and messages can disappear), interoperability (communication across Facebook’s different networks and platforms), and secured data storage.
Facebook announced that a large part of its major overhaul creates much more of an emphasis on groups. Currently, there are millions of active groups on the platform, with groups often becoming one of the most meaningful parts of the user experience. This new upgrade will now make it easier for users to discover and engage with groups who share similar interests.
In an attempt to increase connection amongst the network, a new feature called ‘Meet New Friends’ allows people connect with strangers that have shared interests, as well as real-world connections, such as attending the same University, or working for the same company. This can help to foster real-world connections for users.
Facebook also unveiled a faster Messenger app, new Instagram shopping features, Oculus VR headsets, and even a new dating feature. Later this year, the newest version of Messenger will be released, with a faster function and a much lighter weight of just 30MB instead of the current 100MB. Its new features include the ability to watch videos together with family and friends, and a dedicated space to share content with them.
Instagram is Facebook’s more image-focused social media platform, who will roll out testing the ability to purchase products directly through creators and influencers, as well as a new feature that hides ‘likes’ from public view. This is an attempt to get Instagram users to focus on the content they are sharing, rather than how many likes they get.
Although Facebook has already trialed virtual reality (VR), it is once again trying to launch a new VR headset containing more hardware and newer software. Its primary use of gaming and consuming video hasn’t increased much in the past few years. However, Zuckerberg has hinted at what VR has in its future, including enterprise software and headsets for employees.
The highly anticipated dating features have already been trialed in a few countries, with a new ‘Secret Crush’ feature that lets users create a private list of friends that they are interested in dating. If two users have added one another to their lists, they receive an alert.
It’s been a huge week for Facebook with all of their new features, with some available right now and others expected later in the year. It will be interesting to see how Facebook users respond to these changes.
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