Tech Tent: Do we now trust Facebook?

It has been a week where Facebook has gone some way to soothe the concerns of its developers and has seen the company which sparked its data privacy crisis go out of business.

On Tech Tent we ask whether the tide has turned for Facebook – and conclude that it still has a mountain to climb to restore trust.

It was another crucial week for Mark Zuckerberg. Opening Facebook’s F8 conference he had to address two audiences.

There were 5,000 developers in the hall who had big concerns about their businesses because their access to data had been restricted following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. And more than two billion Facebook users around the world wanted to know whether they could still trust the company with their data.

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    But when I put it to him that launching a dating service during a privacy scandal was a strange move, he went into full-on PR mode. One of the most important things they were trying to do at Facebook was build “meaningful connections” between people.

    He had just attended a wedding of a young friend who said his relationship had started with a Facebook photo – and getting into dating was all about the company asking: “How can we continue to make sure that those meaningful relationships happen at scale?”

    We will have to see whether Facebook users are willing to trust it with their most sensitive personal information, and get meaningful relationships to happen “at scale” even if they are being told that the dating service will have privacy baked in.

    The news that Cambridge Analytica was shutting down broke on the second day of F8 just as I was listening to a rather interesting presentation about Facebook’s AI efforts and the ethical challenges they could pose.

    It is safe to say there were few tears shed in San Jose about the demise of the political consultancy, but also few illusions that this marks an end to the whole controversy about data privacy.

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