Will Facebook’s Recently Announced Privacy Tool Actually Be Released?

With public mistrust of the platform increasing as well as EU regulations slowly beginning to take their toll, Facebook released a variety of features that were meant to improve the privacy of its users. Many of the recently launched features are also meant to indicate that Facebook is no longer going to try and create the absolute monopoly it might have been going for, with the recently announced Google Photos data porting feature in particular being an indication that the social media platform may end up focusing a lot more on user friendliness rather than their own domination of the market.

However, it’s important to ask the question of whether or not this feature is actually going to end up being released or if it is the kind of thing that would be delayed constantly. It’s fair to say that Facebook has been guilty of doing things like this in the past. When public opinion starts to swing away from their favor, the tech company announces a new feature that makes headlines even though the feature never really gets rolled out the way you expect it to.

There are many examples of this that we can look into. When issues with excessive social media use began to get a fair amount of visibility, Facebook started trying to look into screen time calculations that technically went live but took several weeks to actually get to users even though the headlines went up as soon as the feature was announced to be live for a very select group of users all in all. Messenger got an unsend feature as well, but this was only launched in Bolivia, Colombia, Lithuania and Poland, not the biggest markets that Facebook targets yet they got the free press that came with this feature launch regardless.

This is a very common tactic Facebook uses, and many other tech companies are guilty of this as well. While they hide behind the smoke screen of testing the feature out in a particular territory before rolling it out to other territories, they make the announcements and make people think that they care about their consumers when in fact all they are really trying to do is cover their tracks and prevent people from criticizing them as much as they have been recently.

The most notorious example of Facebook doing something like this has to do with offline user tracking. Facebook tracks user activities offline in order to build a more accurate profile that marketers, brands and advertisers can take advantage of, something that people obviously didn’t like because it meant that they were never truly safe from Facebook’s eye. A feature that gave you control over offline tracking was supposedly being developed, but it took over a year for the feature to be fully launched. Even after the launch, it took a full three months before users were actually able to use it.

Hence, it’s very important that users take any announcements made by Facebook with a pinch of salt because of the fact that it is highly likely that it is just a PR stunt and the feature probably won’t come to you anytime soon. Chances are that this will happen with the Google Photos porting feature as well.

Will Facebook’s Recently Announced Privacy Tool Actually Be Released?
Photo: Denis Charlet AFP / Getty Images

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