Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg faced deafening silence when he attempted a joke about the tech giant's reputation on privacy at a recent developer's conference.

"Now look, I get that a lot of people aren't sure that we're serious about this," Zuckerberg said, to meagre laughter from the audience.

When he added that "I know that we don't exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly", he was met with deafening silence and grinned awkwardly.

Going on to say that he was "committed to doing this well", the Facebook founder's attempts at humour are in stark contrast to the massive fines the company faces for mishandling user data.

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In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the recent admission that Facebook stored millions of user passwords in plaintext, the F8 developer conference was used by Zuckerberg to promote the company's new privacy push but critics were quick to hit out at the embattled CEO.


Jokes aside, Zuckerberg told the Washington Post in an interview on the eve of the conference that: "The next five years at least, maybe even the next 10 years, is building out the private platforms with the richness that the public platforms have had to date."

Zuckerberg knows private messaging is capturing a growing share of people's attention, a motivation for moving the company in that direction. But Facebook still hasn't figured out how to make money off that behaviour. Ninety-nine per cent of the company's revenue comes from targeted advertising, from profiles that are tied to the information Facebook collects about people, including what they post publicly on Facebook.