F8, the developers’ annual 2-day conference hosted by Facebook in San Jose, California will have Mark Zuckerberg facing the public live post-Congressional inquiry. The public (and the U.K. Parliament) will be intently watching as this comes weeks after the Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw Facebook founder, Zuckerberg alternately pictured both as a victim and a lizard who made money through unauthorized acquisition and sale of user data. Last year, the focus was on augmented reality and virtual reality but this year, expectations are high over security measures and the Oculus Go, the standalone $199 VR.
When high caliber minds meet in a caucus such as this, hopes are high that the discussions will seed innovation that is useful, or at the very least, enjoyable. In his keynote address, Zuckerberg made a perfunctory (almost breezy) “mea culpa” over the security breach scandal and stressed that countermeasures will ensure the sanctity of private data and prevent the proliferation of fake news.
Foremost among the changes is tighter control on how developers can access some data on the Facebook platform. Aside from the expected discussion about its tools like React, React Native and GraphQL, there was keen interest on where Facebook was headed as Zuckerberg announced that it was re-opening its app review process. It was a not-so-subtle signal that Facebook considered itself out of the woods as far as security and trust issues were concerned.
Zuckerberg (even before Facebook) had a reputation for capitalizing on other people’s ideas and true to form, these announcements the FB CEO made at F8 might strike a familiar chord because it’s either a rehash of its own features or a clone of a competitor:
- Facebook wants to create meaningful communities through the new Groups tab and plugin. According to Zuckerberg, “In a community, you can meet new people who share your values – for some, this might be a support group for new parents. For others, it might be about a disease you have. For others, it might be about finding people to come together and volunteer.” The Group tab makes it easy for you to find all your groups and interact with the members more intimately. For instance, as a group, you get to hang out together (like in brick-and-mortar spaces) and watch a video together. Live commentating, where you are up there on the screen is something that you expect to love and hate in equal measures. it can be distracting and annoying or engaging.
The Groups plugin can be added to websites and emails by developers and admins, making it easy to invite people.
2. Facebook is now encroaching on Tinder’s social space by introducing a dating feature predicted to change a lot of “statuses” in the future. It is private in a sense because it doesn’t embarrass by announcing to friends and non-friends that you had expressed some interest in meeting or dating someone. With this new feature, you can opt to create your dating profile which isn’t visible to friends. It has an algorithm for potential matches based on your preferences and mutual friends making it like a more covert Match.com. FaceDate, anyone?
3. Facebook in a move to give Snapchat a dose of its own medicine has given Instagram video capabilities. More significantly, it has become very aggressive about sharing its stories. Currently, users of Spotify, Go-pro and other third-party apps can now share their stories on Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories. These aren’t just screenshots that are shared but stories, videos, and songs that can be edited, posted and shared on Facebook. Musically, a very popular lip synching app and Meitu a selfie editor will also debut very soon. For those of us at the sidelines, this is a most interesting year to watch!