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The Latest: Facebook takes another stab at virtual reality

April 30, 2019
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes the keynote speech at F8, the Facebook's developer conference, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar )

SAN JOSE, California (AP) — The Latest on Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote speech at Facebook’s annual developers conference (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

Facebook will launch its latest attempt to widen the appeal of artificial worlds on May 21 with this release of its Oculus Quest headset.

The company unveiled its plans for the Oculus Quest last fall without disclosing when the $399 headset would be available. Facebook has been trying to get more people hooked on virtual reality since it bought Oculus for $2 billion five years ago. It’s had little success so far.

The Quest’s release will be accompanied by a new twist on the original Oculus Rift headset. The new version, called Rift S, also will cost $399. It won’t require being tethered to a high-priced personal computer, as the original Oculus Rift did.

Facebook also disclosed plans to start selling its video calling device, Portal, in Canada and Europe later this year. The device debuted in the U.S. during last year’s holiday season. The company is also adding its WhatsApp service to Portal for users who want to use encrypted messaging to shield their conversations from prying eyes.

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11 a.m.

Facebook is rolling out a major redesign of its social network’s mobile app and introducing a desktop app for its Messenger service as it tries to recover from a series of privacy breakdowns that have cast a cloud over its future.

The overhauled mobile app unveiled Tuesday by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is supposed to make it easier for the social network’s more than 2.2 billion users to find other people with common interests by connecting through its groups features.

The new option to communicate through a Messenger app designed for personal computers is part of Zuckerberg’s plan to emphasize more private ways for Facebook users to communicate instead of encouraging them to share everything on their personal pages.

Messenger will eventually use encryption technology that will make content indecipherable to anyone but the sender and recipients. That’s similar to what Facebook’s WhatsApp service already does.

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10:30 a.m.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is declaring at the social networking company’s biggest conference of the year that the “future is private.”

Zuckerberg is using the Tuesday keynote address to sum up his plan to turn Facebook and its related services into the equivalent of digital living room where people can share things in more private ways than they currently can on Facebook’s main social network, now populated by more than 2.2 billion users.

Zuckerberg launched this new emphasis earlier this year as Facebook tries to recover from a series of huge privacy lapses that have rocked the company over the past 15 months. It continues to run a highly profitable business built on collecting personal information from its users so it can sell ads targeted to their interests.

But Facebook has acknowledged its inability to protect its users privacy could result in a $3 billion to $5 billion fine by the Federal Trade Commission.

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1:45 a.m.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg will kick off Facebook’s annual F8 conference Tuesday with what are expected to be more details about his new “privacy-focused” vision for the social network.

He’ll also likely do his best to bat away Facebook’s growing array of critics, emboldened regulators and competitors. Zuckerberg and his lieutenant Sheryl Sandberg have apologized repeatedly over the past year for an array of mishaps over privacy, data misuse and security problems.

Last week, the company said it is setting aside $3 billion to cover a possible fine from the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations. Facebook has also suffered hacks, allowed hate speech and live-streamed mass-shooting horror.

Zuckerberg is likely to focus on Facebook’s future by emphasizing private messaging, Facebook’s role in “communities,” and harnessing artificial intelligence to improve discourse.