Facebook has announced an overhaul of its core social network, taking its first concrete steps to refashion itself into a private messaging and e-commerce company as it tries to move past a stream of scandals while tapping new revenue sources.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a fresh design for the world's biggest social network that de-emphasised its NewsFeed and showcased its messaging app, online marketplace and video-on-demand site.
The company also rolled out features aimed at encouraging users to interact with their close social circle as well as with businesses, such as a "secret crush" option for Facebook Dating and a tool for appointment booking.
In March, Mr Zuckerberg promised changes to the advertising-driven social media company as it was under regulatory scrutiny over propaganda on its platform and users' data privacy.
We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
Facebook's news feed continues to draw ad dollars, but user growth in its most lucrative markets has slowed.
"We believe that there is a community for everyone. So we’ve been working on a major evolution to make communities as central as friends," said Mr Zuckerberg today, speaking at Facebook's annual F8 conference, where the company gives developers a peek at new product releases.
Mr Zuckerberg identified private messaging, short-lasting stories and small groups as the fastest-growing areas of online communication. In the last three years, the number of people using Facebook's WhatsApp has almost doubled.
The social media company is now working on "light speed" in order to make its Messenger app smaller in size and faster.
Facebook will also introduce Messenger for Mac and Windows and launch a feature called "product catalogue" for WhatsApp Business. The desktop version of Messenger will be available this autumn.
Later this week, Facebook will run a test in Canada for a major change to its Instagram app that would remove the number of likes on photos, as well as video views from users' feeds, permalink pages and profiles.
Facebook had delayed rolling out certain products at last year's F8 event, which came soon after revelations it inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million users with now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
"I know that we don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly," Mr Zuckerberg said.
Other Facebook executives introduced changes within the Messenger and Instagram apps aimed at helping businesses connect with customers, including appointment booking and enhanced shopping features, as well as a tool to lure customers into direct conversations with companies via ads.