Facebook overhauls design as it pivots to private messaging

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The app taking the lead in Facebook's new privacy-focused approach, Messenger has been made end-to-end encrypted by default for the first time, fully securing messages sent on the service.

Addressing almost 5,000 developers at its annual F8 conference in San Jose, California late Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg said gaining users' trust is his top agenda. Facebook itself will be redesigned to take a greater focus on social aspects like groups over the news feed, while Messenger is getting a new, lighter app as well as a desktop version.

Facebook's F8 developer's conference happens to be the event that serves to provide us with a sneak peek of what to expect out of the social media company in the year ahead.

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The redesigned application, to be followed by a new Facebook website, symbolises changes in how Facebook runs its business, Zuckerberg said.

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The product releases at F8 indicated that its answer involves efforts to keep users on its apps for longer, coupled with e-commerce tools Facebook is hoping businesses will pay to use. The new feature will also make it easier to organise calendars, find new events, and see events hosted by friends. The new opt-in feature will allow users to discover potential matches within their own Facebook communities.

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He'll also likely do his best to bat away Facebook's growing array of critics, emboldened regulators and competitors. Facebook's business was built on harvesting detailed user data to show people precisely targeted ads - not the kind of thing you simply undo overnight.

The company shared more news around its Facebook Dating feature, which was originally announced at F8 past year. Creators can now sell their products on Instagram, and you can directly shop from your favourite creators without even leaving the app. If any of the 9 people also use this feature, they'll get a notification saying someone has a crush on them. "We're focusing on adding more ways to interact privately on Facebook and Instagram groups, stories, and more private ways to interact with businesses", Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. So Facebook wants to shepherd more people into groups. It would damn well need to be after the past year or more of seemingly never-ending privacy debacles. The basic update is already rolling out to the Facebook app and will reach the desktop site in the next few months.

"A lot of the focus is on changing the way that consumer-to-consumer interaction works", said Greg Sparrow, senior vice president and general manager at CompliancePoint, a data privacy and security consultancy. At F8, Facebook announced it is expanding Dating to 14 more countries.

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Strength in numbers. Facebook reports there are tens of millions of active Groups on Facebook and more than 400 million users that belong to a Group. It'll offer a way to watch videos together in real-time with other users, get a desktop version and provide improved communication with close friends and family through a dedicated space for Stories and messages.

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