Facebook Promises Encrypted Messaging (and Privacy-Abusing Business as Usual)

(Adam Engst) #1

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2019/03/07/facebook-promises-encrypted-messaging-and-privacy-abusing-business-as-usual/

In a lengthy blog post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised to support end-to-end encryption and ephemeral content in the company’s messaging apps. That sounds good, but it doesn’t mean Facebook will stop exploiting all the rest of your data.


Ben Thompson’s article is excellent. There are two other things that bother me about the announcement:

Zuckerberg did not mention anything about a time frame or schedule for implementation of the encryption. He did when he announced the consolidation of Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook, which offer a tremendous increase in accurate, precision targeting opportunities for advertisers. And they announced recently that they are building a cryptocurrency exchange; it will be launched as part of WhatsApp. Facebook’s vectors for accumulating data will grow exponentially in the near term:


There was nothing about if or how the company might be doing more to restrict hate speech, violent porn, etc. And I wonder if making communications more “private” and “encrypted” among smaller groups might 0 make it more difficult to screen and weed out objectionable content. Zuckerberg made a bid deal about how effective encryption has been in WhatsApp

(Adam Engst) #3

That’s a reasonable concern, and there’s no question encryption makes everything more protected. However, as long as Facebook retains the keys used for the encryption, it would always be able to decrypt the online communications when required by law. Apple resisted the FBI’s efforts to decrypt an actual iPhone, but will hand over iCloud data when required.

My guess is that Facebook would act similarly. The only way to have truly secure online data storage is if you control your encryption key, and while that works with online backups, I can’t quite imagine how Facebook or the like would allow a random group to have its own encryption key.