After a tough couple of weeks with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the Congressional hearing, Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg came forth at the F8 Facebook Developers conference with much optimism and unveiled many goodies for his users.
The first of these is a new dating app which sent Tinder and its parent Match Group’s stock plummeting on Wednesday. It remains to be seen how much people would warm up to it after what happened with the privacy fiasco and it is not yet clear whether the preferences the user uploads on their profile would bring them unwanted ads.
Match Group meanwhile hit a nerve on the topic of Facebook’s new dating feature by hinting at the recent privacy scandal and how the social media website could expect people to reveal more about themselves when it couldn’t protect their data in the first place.
Apps review and clear history
Facebook said it would reopen its app review process and also build a new Clear History feature that will let users delete their browsing history from the site. This should pacify users for a while about sneaky apps stealing details and sending targeted content their way.
3D photos, votes and hate speech
Facebook is bringing its users a 3D world where ordinary photos can be turned into 3D environments through virtual reality. Facebook will also let people upvote and downvote comments very soon. Along with stating that its image recognition system is the best in the world, the company said it is using artificial intelligence to censor hate speech. This method isn’t foolproof as it still needs humans to review the content for sarcasm and such.
Messenger is getting a simpler design and will no longer have the games and camera tab. It will also get new features like language translation and augmented reality for online shopping.
WhatsApp and Instagram
Both will get the group video chat feature soon, while Instagram will also get an anti-bullying filter. WhatsApp Status has become immensely popular with 450 million daily active users, putting WhatsApp way ahead of Snapchat in the race for user growth. Snapchat has been floundering with a disastrous design revamp which is paving the way for WhatsApp to gain more edge.
Facebook will build a new Clear History feature that will let users delete their browsing history from the site
There were many more features like Oculus Go but there were a few things missing too, which people would have liked to know more about, like Facebook Live. Zuckerberg offered no updates on Live. The feature that was intended for the celebration of happy occasions quickly turned into a platform for broadcasting graphic violence. This is an ongoing issue and perhaps Facebook is still trying to figure out a way to remedy it.
Another key feature that did not get any mention is the News Feed. One might recall that, not long ago, the prominent feature was caught in the eye of a storm on the issue of fake news and Russian propaganda. This led Facebook to bring in several changes such as reducing the priority of third-party news content in favor of posts from family and friends. It appears the company is concentrating on fixing the existing News Feed than adding anything new to it.
The bouquet of new features also points to the fact that Facebook is reducing its dependency on any single aspect of its platform. It is diversifying into a range of apps and services which will open up fresh streams of revenue. It is also increasing its focus on WhatsApp and Instagram, both of which are growing in terms of revenue and users. This will help ensure that Facebook does not fall prey to a ‘single-target, single-hit’ situation.
Facebook is keen on moving past the scandals and criticisms and admits that it has its work cut out for it on the same.