At F8, Zuckerberg unveils Facebook's new mantra: 'The future is private'

CEO Mark Zuckerberg extols the virtues of private spaces online.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read
James Martin/CNET

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook is doubling down on privacy. 

At F8, the social network's annual developer conference, Facebook's CEO said the company is shifting its efforts to not only focus on public spaces like your news feed, but also private places online.

"I believe the future is private," Zuckerberg said. "This is the next chapter for our services."

In a bombshell move, Zuckerberg said last month Facebook would refocus the entire company around privacy. He said the infrastructure of all of Facebook's services, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, would be more technically integrated and prioritize end-to-end encryption, which makes user messages unreadable to other parties, as well as other privacy features.

Watch this: Facebook's Zuckerberg preaches 'The future is private'

Zuckerberg's F8 keynote is his biggest speech of the year, akin to a State of the Union for Facebook. In past keynotes, he reflected on turning 30, took a veiled shot at then-candidate Donald Trump against building walls, and apologized for Facebook's Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

This year's conference comes during the most tumultuous period in Facebook's history. The social network is still reeling from its role in helping to spread disinformation in the 2016 US presidential election, as well as efforts by state actors to sway several subsequent elections. Facebook has also faced criticism for what critics have called a cavalier approach to user data that has taken the form of traditional data breaches, as well as reportedly using personal information as bargaining chips with partner companies. 

Facebook has also received blowback for reportedly trying to deflect blame for some of its policies, and hiring the communications firm Definers, which specializes in opposition research, to dig up dirt on the company's detractors.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook's new focus on privacy might seem disingenuous after its past scandals. 

"I get that a lot of people think we're not serious about this," Zuckerberg said. "I know we don't have the strongest reputation on privacy, to put it lightly." 

Zuckerberg has recently called for more regulation of the tech industry. Last month, he said in an op-ed in The Washington Post that lawmakers should focus on legislation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.