By Alex Heath
Facebook’s recent push toward becoming a more private, ephemeral social network has the potential to disrupt not only its relationship with users, but also its relationship with developers and content partners.
Ime Archibong, the veteran Facebook executive who is responsible for those partner relationships, told Cheddar that while Facebook is still early in its shift towards a privacy-centric model, the company is sharing its roadmap with partners earlier than it would have in the past.
“We didn’t necessarily want to communicate, nor launch, nor engage around anything we were doing until we felt like we had the answer,’ Archibong, VP of Partnerships, said during an interview at Facebook’s annual developer conference in San Jose, Calif. “We are inviting people into our building here a lot earlier than we may have done historically.”
CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off Facebook’s conference, which the company has held for developers every year since 2007, on Tuesday with the proclamation that “the future is private.” For Facebook, the shift is a referendum on how the social network previously encouraged users to share information publicly. It’s also a response to the myriad of data privacy scandals Facebook has been mired in for the past two years.
Archibong, who has worked at Facebook for nearly nine years, said that the push toward encrypted messaging and ephemeral sharing is “a behavior and a consumer expectation that we’re seeing more broadly across the internet.”
“We’re going to learn a lot together,” he said when asked what Facebook’s new focus means for its thousands of developer and content partners. “We’re going to wrestle with some of these tense challenges together.”
According to Archibong, one of the more challenging issues with encrypting messages, which will now happen by default in Messenger and WhatsApp, is how developers will be able to know how their services are being used. When messages are encrypted, no one besides the people in the message thread can read the content.
“These are real tension points,” he said.
Facebook is still very much in the process of trying to rebuild trust with its user base and partners in the wake of the many scandals that have besieged the company recently. Recognizing that people want to communicate more privately and securely represents a new chapter for Facebook. And the jury is still out on whether the company — and its many outside partners — will be able to navigate the shift successfully.
“What we continue to see from partners is that they want to make this shift with us,” Archibong said.