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Facebook F8 2020: Developer conference returns in May

Can CEO Mark Zuckerberg show the social network is back on track?

Facebook's annual developer conference will kick off in May next year.
James Martin/CNET

Facebook's F8 developer conference will return next year to the San Jose McEnery Convention Center on May 5 and 6, giving CEO Mark Zuckerberg another chance to show how the social network is tackling its biggest problems from privacy to misinformation.

Facebook typically unveils new features during the conference, but the spotlight will once again be on Zuckerberg's keynote speech. This year, Zuckerberg said the company is focusing more on the social network's private spaces such as messaging. F8 will be another opportunity to see how these efforts are panning out.

The company plans to add end-to-end encryption to Facebook Messenger and Instagram messages like WhatsApp. That means messages can't be viewed by anyone outside the sender and recipient, a move that law enforcement worry will make it harder to solve child exploitation crimes. It's also working on a way for users of all three of these services to send messages to one another without switching apps.

After a series of scandals, Facebook is trying to rebuild trust with its nearly 2.5 billion users. Scrutiny of the company has only intensified after revelations surfaced in 2018 that UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested the data from up to 87 million users without their consent. In July, the Federal Trade Commission hit Facebook with a record $5 billion fine for violating consumers' privacy.

"I know that we don't exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly," Zuckerberg said during this year's F8.

But Facebook's problems haven't stopped there. Lawmakers and even Facebook's own founder have called on the government to break the social media giant up. Then there's all the criticism Facebook has been facing over allowing politicians to lie in ads.

All these scandals don't appear to be making a big dent in Facebook's business or its efforts to grow beyond social networking. The company has also been expanding into virtual reality, video chat devices, cryptocurrency and even dating. It even unveiled a new corporate logo and redesigned its mobile app and website this year to give it a cleaner and more modern look. Now we'll have to wait and see if all these initiatives pay off.

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