The F8 annual developer conference is set to kick off this week — and tech watchers worldwide are wondering what the mood at the event will be as Facebook is attempting to redefine itself in a post-Cambridge Analytica world.
So what can we expect to see and hear out of F8 2018?
Privacy will likely be a favored buzzword this week because of the Cambridge Analytica situation — and the small matter of 85 million profiles created about users without their permission. But beyond that, the EU GDPR rules — which will update privacy protections across the continent — are set to go into effect in a little under a month. So far, Facebook has already made it possible for users to delete their data and limit how much of it can be used by advertisers for ad targeting. But experts are wondering if the world will hear about additional measures this week.
Hate speech and fake news are also likely to be concepts that make an appearance at the conference. Facebook has been battling the fake news part of the equation with fact checkers and source ranking by users — and we might get an update this week on how those efforts are going (if they are successful, anyway).
The latest version of the social media network’s community standards also includes tougher standards for hate speech and a clearer explanation of what counts (and what doesn’t). But Facebook has had notable problems leveraging AI against this problem (computers aren’t great at finding hate speech), and human editors miss things. What other measures FB plans to take could be an important part of F8 this week.
F8 may also offer some more explanation of the “deeper connections” in the News Feed that Facebook has been touting of late (more material connected with friends and family, less connected with advertisers) and how developers might leverage that in the future. Updates are also expected on the larger Facebook ecosystem of services and digital hangouts — Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
Also rather avidly anticipated is news on Facebook-owned Oculus projects — particularly the Go, its first standalone headset — and perhaps updates on the Rift 2 hardware.
The jump ball remains on whether or not social VR gets a mention, since Facebook has said since the acquisition that at least one of the goals for the VR investment was creating digital spaces for Facebook friends to virtually hang out in.
What will make the cut — and will there be real progress? We’ll keep you posted as F8 rolls on.