Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference kicks off this morning, just roughly a month and a half since the Cambridge Analytica scandal completely redefined the conversation around data privacy and social networking platforms.
That means F8’s keynote address, which in years past has focused on the frontiers of new technology like virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence, will also have to reckon with the hard conversations on responsibility and accountability that have made up Facebook’s biggest existential crisis to date. The whole controversy may have even postponed the company’s plans to reveal its rumored smart speaker, known internally as Portal, at F8 amid fears of Facebook’s overreach and concerns over having the company listening inside consumers’ homes.
Of course, there will be news completely unrelated to Cambridge Analytica. Facebook is expected to talk more about its plans for VR hardware over at Oculus. We’ll hear more about the company’s push into AR to take on Google and Snapchat since first debuting its intelligent camera platform at last year’s F8. We’ll also hear more about the company’s secretive Building 8 division, which this time a year ago announced it was working on brain-computer interfaces. Former DARPA director Regina Dugan has since left her post as head of Building 8, so we’re eager to hear how those more outlandish projects are coming along in her absence. There’s a keynote on day two that takes place at 1PM ET / 10 AM PT on Wednesday, May 2nd, and that will likely be when we’ll hear more about Building 8 developments.
But the Cambridge Analytica situation has forced Facebook to make radical changes to its developer platform, which makes a developer conference like F8 an especially interesting time to hear how the company plans to move forward with its platform and entice app makers to build products on top of its core service. Facebook has restricted or shut down numerous high-profile APIs and curtailed developers’ access to user data in a variety of ways, in hopes of preventing future data abuse situations. Developers who spoke to The Verge these past few weeks said the changes have cast a shadow over F8 and whether Facebook really can court developers back to its platform.
So what has typically been a rather quiet, developer-focused affair has been transformed into more of a litmus test for Facebook’s handling of the data privacy scandal. Naturally, everyone’s eyes will be on CEO Mark Zuckerberg and how he plans to address the elephant in the room when he takes the stage for today’s opening keynote. If you’re interested in tuning in live and following along with The Verge’s coverage, see below for the best ways to do so.
How to follow along
Starting time: San Francisco: 10AM / New York: 1PM / London: 6PM / Berlin: 7PM / Moscow: 8PM / New Delhi: 10:30PM / Beijing: 12:30AM (May 2nd) / Tokyo: 2AM (May 2nd) / Sydney: 3AM (May 2nd)
Live tweeting: Follow @Verge on Twitter for the latest headlines and news developments as they emerge.