Privacy was in sharp focus at Facebook’s recently held annual F8 developer conference in California, with the social media giant announcing a number of changes to its family of apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram.

The Facebook app is set to get a significant redesign, which will be released later this year and promises to make the world’s most popular social media website “simpler, faster, more immersive and puts your communities at the centre”.

Facebook promises a new avenue of finding someone special for the singletons among us, introducing Facebook Dating as a competitor to the already-longish list of online dating websites and apps. With what Facebook calls the Secret Crush feature, users who opt into Facebook Dating will be able to select up to nine people who they are already friends with as potential romantic interests. If the people they’ve selected also opt into Facebook Dating and add them to their own lists, both parties will be informed of the match.

Facebook Messenger gets an overhaul specifically focusing on privacy in its latest update, with end-to-end encrypted messages being introduced for the first time. Messenger will now also be available as a standalone desktop app for Windows and Mac users, and a new space called Close Friends will allow Facebook users to share messages and Stories with a select group of friends and family.

Instagram is being updated with new features, including an integration that allows users to buy items in posts they like immediately. New stickers and effects are also in the offing in updates to Instagram’s Camera mode.

Perhaps one of the most interesting announcements among the many made is the introduction of catalogues to the business version of the WhatsApp messaging app. Focused on small businesses, this functionality will allow users to directly browse product catalogues, without having to leave the messaging platform.

Keep an eye on Smartcom’s blog for the latest news about the new developments at Facebook and its partners.

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