Facebook is happy to protect user data when doing so decreases the company’s civic responsibilities — but not when it threatens advertising revenue.
Here are four pressing questions about privacy that Mr. Zuckerberg conspicuously did not address:
- Will Facebook stop collecting data about people’s browsing behavior, which it does extensively?
- Will it stop purchasing information from data brokers who collect or “scrape” vast amounts of data about billions of people, often including information related to our health and finances?
- Will it stop creating “shadow profiles” — collections of data about people who aren’t even on Facebook?
- And most important: Will it change its fundamental business model, which is based on charging advertisers to take advantage of this widespread surveillance to “micro-target” consumers?
To be fair, there were some genuinely new announcements. For instance, Mr. Zuckerberg said that the company would expand end-to-end encryption of messaging, which prevents Facebook — or anyone other than the participants in a conversation — from seeing the content of messages. I’m certainly in favor of messaging privacy: It is a cornerstone of the effort to push back against the cloud of surveillance that has descended over the globe.