Oct 28, 2021: The Information’s Creator Economy Summit

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Munich in 2020. Photo: Bloomberg.
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Facebook Researchers Hope to Bring Together Two Foes: Encryption and Ads

Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Munich in 2020. Photo: Bloomberg.

Facebook is bulking up a team of artificial intelligence researchers, including a key hire from Microsoft, to study ways of analyzing encrypted data without decrypting it, the company confirmed. The research could allow Facebook to target ads based on encrypted messages on its WhatsApp messenger, or to encrypt the data it collects on billions of users without hurting its ad-targeting capabilities, outside experts say.

Facebook is one of several technology giants, including cloud computing providers Microsoft, Amazon and Google, now researching an emerging field known as homomorphic encryption. Researchers hope the technology will allow companies to analyze personal information, including medical records and financial data, while keeping the information encrypted and protected from cybersecurity threats or, in Facebook’s case, leaks to advertisers or other parties.

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