The company that everyone loves to hate (Facebook), held their annual F8 developer conference today to present some ideas that would hopefully turn a new leaf for them and recreate their image as a “privacy-focused social platform”. They presented the following major changes to their core product, which won’t take effect immediately but will supposedly start a new chapter in their book:
- Redesigning the core Facebook app around Groups and Events – shifting away from the News Feed
- Launching Facebook Dating and Meet New Friends, two privacy-focused features that allow you to use your profile to date and meet
- Combining the messaging functionalities of Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram – giving the ability to communicate between those services
- Making end-to-end encryption in Messenger the default
Zuckerberg summarizes the new chapter as a shift from “Facebook the Town Square” to “Facebook the Digital Living Room”.
What I don’t understand, though, is how Facebook the Digital Living Room will make money.
Their era as the Town Square which was dominated by the News Feed feature made them exorbitant amounts of money. The News Feed was a golden goose that laid a $550 Billion egg called Facebook. However, the News Feed also played a role in scraping and selling data, spreading fake news and hate speech, and even suppressing information, which is why they’re likely moving away from it.
This transition makes me wonder: Has Facebook found another golden goose that isn’t focused on collecting data and advertising?
If Facebook’s F8 presentation was any indication of what the future of Facebook is, they’re basically becoming a more intimate messaging service. One where you’re not broadcasting your voice to hundreds, thousands, or millions at any given time. They’re focusing on smaller, encrypted conversations which doesn’t leave much room for advertising.
Honestly, we’ve never really seen a company get rich as a messaging service. Snap is the closest at $1.1 Billion in revenue last year (Facebook did $55B). But still, Snap is self-described as a camera company. I wouldn’t say that Facebook is heading in the same direction.
Some messaging services make money by charging, however, I also don’t see Facebook heading that direction.
Clearly, Facebook is holding some cards close to its chest. Perhaps you’re seeing a play here that I’m overlooking.
If so, please join me on May 8th at 6 pm CST for a Digital Hangout on this topic. We’ll be discussing the future of communication and are going to touch on the economic opportunities of privacy. We’d love to have you (even if you don’t know what Facebook is up to). You can reserve your seat by clicking the button below: