Facebook Will Begin to Study How to Best Leverage Blockchain Technology

A small, new unit has been established inside Facebook, which is specifically tasked with  exploring blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that supports cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. It will be overseen by the former head of Messenger, David Marcus.

Earlier this year Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a statement where he pledged to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of controversial technologies, the reason behind the establishment of this new unit.

The  team will be made of less than a dozen staffers, as reported by Recode. It said that Instagram’s VP of engineering James Everingham and Instagram’s VP of product Kevin Weil would both be part of it, while Messenger’s head of product Stan Chudnovsky would now be in control of the chat app. Marcus, a Coinbase board member and ex PayPal chief, confirmed the new role in an update posted to his personal Facebook page this week.

Marcus wrote: that he was setting up a small team to explore the best way to leverage blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.

Blockchain chronologically records financial transactions of a cryptocurrency and is secured with strong encryption. It is open and shared between all users of a chosen virtual currency, much like how a peer-to-peer network functions. Once a transaction is recorded it remains almost tamper-proof from outside parties. Despite shady links to cybercrime, blockchain technology does not allow its users to stay fully anonymous, just pseudonymous.

What’s more, Facebook also revealed plans for a formal shakeup of its own board, which came in the wake of a major privacy scandal that resulted in Zuckerberg being put before the U.S. Congress to answer questions relating to Cambridge Analytica, a political profiling company that allegedly accessed an estimated 87 million user accounts in 2014.

Earlier in 2018, Facebook banned cryptocurrency advertising, describing it as being frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotion practices. After that, rival companies Google and Twitter enacted similar policies.

Although Facebook may never ever let users transact with bitcoin on their platform, its clear that the U.S.-based social network is interested in the technology behind it.

In January Zuckerberg wrote that back in the 1990s and 2000s, most people thought technology would be a decentralizing force. But today, many people have lost faith in that promise because  of the rise of a small number of big tech companies and governments using technology to watch their citizens. Many people now think technology only centralizes power instead of decentralizing it but there are important counter-trends to this, like encryption and cryptocurrency, that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands. However, the CEO added that they come with the risk of being harder to control.

Lastly, Zuckerberg said he is interested in going deeper and studying the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in Facebook services.

References: https://bit.ly/2jIWwlE


Image Credit: NicoElNino / Shutterstock


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