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Everything that happened at F8 today (and one thing that didn't)

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As expected, the first day of the F8 developer conference had a more muted tone than previous years.
 
May 1 · Issue #127 · View online
The Interface
As expected, the first day of the F8 developer conference had a more muted tone than previous years. The video that opened the conference referred repeatedly to the company’s missteps. Cambridge Analytica appeared onscreen as a headline, as did another that read simply: “What Facebook did to American democracy.”
Then out came Mark Zuckerberg with his new rallying cry: “We will keep building.” “I know that it hasn’t been easy being a developer these past couple of months,” he said, “and that’s probably an understatement. What I can assure you is we’re hard at work making sure people don’t abuse this platform, so you can all keep building things that people love.”
In an interview with Steven Levy, Zuckerberg said it would take three years to fix Facebook. After getting battered for a year and a half, Facebook hasn’t changed his mission, he said — but it is thinking differently about how it builds products:
I really think the biggest shift is around being more proactive, around finding and preventing abuse. The big learning is that we need to take a broader view of our responsibility. It’s not just about building tools and assuming that humans are on balance good, and so therefore the tools will be used for on balance good. It is no longer enough to give people tools to say what they want and then just let our community flag them and try to respond after the fact. We need to take a more active role in making sure that the tools aren’t misused.
And with that, the company … introduced a bunch of new tools! Including a big one — a suite of dating features — that are as ripe for abuse and harassment as any that the company has yet offered. 
So how has Facebook taken what it learned from the past year and a half and incorporated it into Facebook Dating? One answer is that it has apparently siloed much of your dating data off from the rest of Facebook, giving you a modicum of privacy. But the real answer is that we won’t know until the product is in the world, and people start trying to poke holes in it.
Facebook did talk about the privacy protections it’s building into its dating app. But I wish it had talked more about how its approach to building this product evolved in the wake of the data scandal — if in fact it did. (This feature has long been in the works; I wrote about the patent last year.) What did Facebook consider but throw out? What potential misuses of the feature did it anticipate? How will it mitigate those abuses?
Answering those questions — even just at a high level, with a couple of slides — would help Facebook build trust with a skeptical user base. It would demonstrate that broader view of its responsibility that executives are always talking about. But once again, it feels like the company is content with pointing to its good intentions.
And in that sense, it can feel like not much has changed at all.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I’ll have a longer take tomorrow, after I let some of this digest. But first, let’s recap the day’s big events. For starters, Facebook’s developer platform reopened after being paused in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to cheers from the developers on hand. (Though not as many cheers as went up when Zuckerberg told them they would all be getting a new Oculus Go.)
Here are the five biggest announcements according to The Verge, with which I totally agree. Here’s a link to our 21 stories (!) about the day’s events. Here’s Facebook’s slightly … drier recap.
And here’s a deeper dive, organized by product.
Facebook.
A “clear history” button that will function similar to the way the “clear history” button works in your browser: wiping the trail of websites you’ve visited and ads you’ve clicked on. A clear and meaningful outcome of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and one that Facebook is announcing before having built it. The feature will be available within the next few months, Facebook says. (Here’s a Zuckberberg post about it, in which he complains: “Your Facebook won’t be as good while it relearns your preferences.” And here’s another from chief privacy officer Erin Egan with more detail.)
- Facebook is building a suite of features for dating, centered around groups and events. It’s a big deal, but details are still short. Among other things, we don’t know when it will launch. Still, here’s why it might be a good thing. Here are some jokes about it. And here is what Joey Levin, CEO of IAC, which owns Match Group — and thus Tinder — said about it: ”Come on in. The water’s warm. Their product could be great for US/Russia relationships.”
- When Safety Check is active in an area, people who are affected can now upload firsthand accounts of timely information, such as road closures. Facebook will now also offer information about blood donation drives, a feature presumably suggested by Peter Thiel
Did not launch: a home smart speaker. (It might be coming internationally first.)
Instagram
Instagram is adding video chat, a redesigned Explore feed, a camera platform (now in closed beta), and third-party app integrations (starting with Spotify). It will also start filtering out bullying in comments.
WhatsApp
WhatsApp is adding group video calling and stickers, plus some new business chat features.
Messenger.
Messenger is belatedly introducing a total redesign aimed at killing off all the clutter. It’s also now offering Spanish-language translations — with more languages to come — and new AR effects that businesses can use to sell things.
Oculus.
Oculus Go went on sale for $199. (Here’s our review.) There’s a new Oculus TV app to let you watch ESPN, Showtime, and other streaming video. An updated Rooms app — Rooms is where you hang out with friends in VR — now features licensed games from Hasbro.

Democracy
UK parliament’s call for Zuckerberg to testify goes next level
Democrats Know Hackers Will Be Back In 2018. The Problem? Forcing Campaigns To Care.
This Former Tea Party Activist Is Teaching People To Spot Fake News
What’s True, and Fake, About the Facebook Effect
Elsewhere
Snapchat’s redesign isn’t working, as Snap delivers weak earnings and poor user growth
Facebook accidentally asked its users whether the posts they saw contained hate speech - The Washington Post
Facebook’s 3 Big Deals Delivered 2 Headaches and 1 Blockbuster
Oculus wants to make immersive virtual theater a reality
New Breed of Shoppers Races to Instagram to Buy Vintage Clothes
Questions? Comments? 
And finally ...
Meet Furry Boi, the Squirrel Who Won a UC Berkeley Senate Seat Thanks to a Facebook Meme Page
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? San Jose dining recommendations? casey@theverge.com
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