So serious that CEO Mark Zuckerberg made privacy the focus of his annual keynote address at Facebook's F8 Developers Conference on Tuesday afternoon.
"Privacy gives us the freedom to be ourselves. It's easier to feel like you belong when you are part of smaller communities," Zuckerberg told the conference crowd. "As the world gets bigger and more connected, we need that sense of intimacy more than ever."
Zuckerberg emphasized the necessity of private digital spaces to complement the public town square forums that currently define social media. To achieve this, Facebook's privacy push is based on six principles: private interactions, encryption, reduced permanence, safety, inter-operability and security.
Not coincidentally, many of these principles will also make it easier for companies to do business with users across Facebook's main platforms of Facebook proper, WhatsApp and Instagram. Monetizing these massive platforms is expected to be a key part of the company's future business growth.
The company also announced a Facebook desktop and app update that will see visual redesigns for both that also will streamline the Facebook experience. Despite the lofty ambitions, Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook has a long way to go to securing users' privacy.
"I'm sure we are going to continue to unearth old issues so it will take time," Zuckerberg said. "It is not going to happen overnight. And we don't have all the answers for how this is going to work."
Zuckerberg also made a number of product announcements in his keynote speech. Predicting that "this is going to be a big year for VR," he said the company's Oculus Rift S with improved graphics and its cable-less, all-in-one Oculus Quest would both be available for pre-order today for $399 and would start shipping on May 21. In a bit of showmanship, Zuckerberg told the crowd that everyone there would be getting a free Oculus Quest.
He also mentioned that its Portal video device would be available in Canada staring in June, as well as other countries in the fall, and that WhatsApp users would now be able to make video calls using the device.
Facebook shares are down 0.5% to $193.82 on Tuesday afternoon and are up about 48% so far this year.
Facebook is a key holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust.