Opinion

Major Changes Coming to Facebook

Users will also find new features to locate and make new friends as well as Facebook Dating’s “Secret Crush” feature, which allows users to select friends as a crush, and if they reciprocate, both will be matched and notified. Facebook Dating is not yet available in Fiji.
04 May 2019 14:41
Major Changes Coming to Facebook
Facebook founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg announcing the changes at the company’s annual F8 developer conference.

Opinion:

  • Arnold Chanel is a consultant for Strategic Communications Firm Vatis. He specialises in public relations.

Facebook founder and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg announced a major redesign at the company’s annual F8 developer conference. The fifth major redesign of Facebook, codenamed “FB5”, is the biggest change the social media giant has implemented in years, and everything from the logo to features is going to change in some way.

Among the plethora of changes, Facebook is getting rid of its traditional blue background for its app and website for a sleeker, white background to be more visually appealing to users.  The new and improved Facebook promises to be faster, more reliable and more user-friendly.

Users will also find new features to locate and make new friends as well as Facebook Dating’s “Secret Crush” feature, which allows users to select friends as a crush, and if they reciprocate, both will be matched and notified. Facebook Dating is not yet available in Fiji.
Larger focus on building communities

Facebook is switching a large part of its focus on building communities. This means that Facebook groups will now become increasingly significant on the platform. The introduction of a new and improved “groups tab” will make groups easier to find, join and post content in.

Users will also experience more group suggestions. Depending on your online activity on the Facebook platform, its artificial intelligence will suggest groups to you that it calculates as most relevant. For example, if you engage with posts on rugby, groups about rugby will pop up on your news feed.

In Fiji, Facebook groups are a major component of our online landscape. Of the 500,000 Fijian daily active users, many use the “groups” feature for various reasons. Whether they are trading on “buy and sell” groups, viewing and participating in gossip in some of the more notorious groups, or simply interacting with friends and family in smaller, private groups, these changes are going to have an impact on Fiji’s social media landscape.
Increased privacy protection

Recent criticism on Facebook’s ability (or inability) to protect user data and privacy has caused a lot of controversies for the billion dollar company. The stream of scandals involving the use of users private information has forced Facebook to make a major shift to protecting the privacy of its users.

In this age, user data is a valuable commodity and companies are willing to pay large money to obtain it.

Apps like Facebook obtain a lot of information about you. Not only do they require your personal details in order to sign up, but track your IP address, pictures, videos, likes, location and travel patterns.

Your personal data can be processed and used in many ways. Large companies can use your behavioural patterns for specifically targeted advertising. This data is very private and, in many countries, illegal to obtain and use, especially without consent. Human rights groups around the world have regularly advocated for privacy and data protection against tech giants like Facebook and Google.

Zuckerberg has assured users that Facebook will now give high priority to privacy and users can expect more features designed to protect it.

One of the major new features to address these issues will be the end-to-end encryption, by default setting, that the Facebook Messenger app will now have. This means that Facebook will now no longer be able to see your private messages. Users will also be able to share content in messages that won’t remain there permanently.

It remains to be seen how Fijians react to this revamp of the most used social media platform in the country. One thing for certain is that change is inevitable, especially when it comes to online technology. Facebook is attempting to adapt to the ever-changing global online landscape so that it can compete with rival platforms, both old and upcoming ones such as TikTok.

Feedbackarnold@vatis.com.fj



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