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If Mark Zuckerberg’s latest blog post on the future of Facebook were on Rotten Tomatoes, it seems safe to imagine its critics’ score falling in the rotten zone.

While the whole thing is worth reading, given Facebook‘s sizable footprint when it comes to all things digital, Zuckerberg has apparently come down off the mountain his company built out of fake news, harassment, genocide, and privacy scandals to announce that he has gotten religion on privacy. The future of Facebook and its app ecosystem of Instagram and WhatsApp will be direct messaging services and disappearing content, he vows, and the company is going to make this central to the platform’s experience.

To which the internet responded: “LULWut?”

Even Zuck himself somewhat sheepishly pointed out in a bid to win the Nobel Prize for dramatic understatements: “Frankly, we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services.”

Shocked! We’re shocked!

The reactions reflected just how deeply battered his reputation and credibility are.

Don’t believe me about the negativity surrounding Facebook? Here is a sample of headlines from the past week pulled from the aggregation site TechMeme:

  1. Axios Harris Poll of US adults: Facebook’s reputation dropped from 51st to 94th in 2018, following myriad scandals; Amazon, Netflix, and Apple remained steady
  2. Following its Dec. report, Privacy International finds seven major Android apps, including Yelp and Duolingo, still send personal data to Facebook upon launch
  3. Facebook has urged users to enable phone number-based 2FA, but the numbers are used in a user lookup feature with no opt out and to target ads, sparking outcry
  4. Leaked Facebook memo describes company’s lobbying efforts in 2012 and 2013 against a proposed European data directive which later became GDPR, more
  5. Developers in Moldova say they reported misinformation and fake news to Facebook for three years before the company took action in February

Those are just headlines from the last five days!

Not surprisingly then, Zuckerberg’s latest announcement was seen to land in a kind of no-man’s-land between cynical and self-serving:

To be fair, some people are willing to give Zuckerberg a shot, or at least reserve judgment, like former Facebook chief information security officer Alex Stamos:

But Zuckerberg will face a lot of doubters in the coming years. Whether he can artfully navigate this ongoing backlash and rebuild a post-advertising driven business around privacy is tough to say, but critics are lining up to bet that it is a task beyond his grasp.

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