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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

15 years after he launched the "digital equivalent of a town square," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is promising a major shift in the other direction. "I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won't stick around forever," he announced today.

Why it matters: "That would mark a sharp reversal for Facebook, which has grown into one of the world’s wealthiest companies by inventing exotic new methods of personal data collection," The Verge's Casey Newton writes.

What they're saying: "#1 reason to be suspicious of Zuckerberg’s privacy manifesto today ... It doesn’t say how Facebook is going to make money in a world where it respects our privacy," the Washington Post's tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler tweets.

More from Zuck: "As we build our infrastructure around the world, we've chosen not to build data centers in countries that have a track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression."

  • "Upholding this principle may mean that our services will get blocked in some countries, or that we won't be able to enter others anytime soon.
  • "That's a tradeoff we're willing to make."

Between the lines: Axios reporters shared thought bubbles on what this means across the company.

  • Facebook users: Internet users are already seeking out private, ephemeral and group-oriented services as alternatives to the reputational risks and pervasive harassment that can accompany public platforms, Axios' Sara Fischer has reported.
  • Facebook's bottom line: The company could enjoy lower operational costs and risk since it will no longer have to invest in as many content moderation efforts on an encryption-based platform, Sara said.
  • Facebook advertisers: The encrypted part could become a big deal if users do more posting in encrypted groups than in public, Axios' Scott Rosenberg notes.
  • Facebook regulators and U.S. lawmakers: This makes it harder for any government to break up Facebook/WhatsApp/Instagram because of the integration of the technological and business parts of the platforms, Axios’ Ina Fried wrote on Slack.

Go deeper: Facebook's reputation is sinking fast

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

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