The blockchain wagon is ploughing ahead, and now Facebook has jumped on board with a new team dedicated to exploring the technology.
Many are already recognising blockchain as a way of efficiently powering, decentralizing and protecting not just cryptocurrencies but applying it to whole old and new fields. With data transfer and social media as some of the most readily apparent applications of blockchain, it should be no surprise that the biggest social network on the planet is showing some interest.
As large as Facebook is, the all-new blockchain team, as reported by CNET, is relatively small. That doesn’t mean that it’s not serious, however. The team is comprised of less than a dozen people, all led by David Marcus, the man who previously oversaw Messenger’s transition from part of the Facebook site to a stand-alone app. Alongside some heads of Instagram, Marcus is also a board member of cryptocurrency organisation, Coinbase, so the team won’t be entirely unfamiliar with blockchain technology. Some other notable members of the new team include James Everingham and Kevin Well, the VP of Engineering and VP or Product for Instagram, respectively.
What’s it doing?
The team, formed and announced as of Tuesday 8th May, hasn’t laid out any specific applications of blockchain in Facebook just yet, and we shouldn’t expect detailed news on that front for some time. Rather, the mission of the team is simple and broad: “explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch” as stated by Marcus. This follows up by the statement of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, in January, that made public their intent to start looking into cryptocurrencies and “how to best use them in our services.”
The main feature of Blockchain as understood by most is to create a permanent, secure and verifiable record of transactions between two parties. Without the need for a centralising intermediary, like a bank, it instead relies on using other instances of the record to verify later or earlier ones. If the records don’t match up, it’s safe to say that one of them is fraudulent, which can later be confirmed by matching them against other instances. While Bitcoin might be the first application of Blockchain technology, some are expecting it to start spreading much more thoroughly throughout the digital landscape. Some, like the Verge, report that Facebook may be looking to start its own cryptocurrency, but that is far from a definite conclusion just yet.
What it could mean
Futurism takes a look into other particular applications of Blockchain in Facebook. For one, they suggest that Marcus’s team might simply be preparing the platform for when the technology is standardised across the whole internet. But a much more tangible goal is the potential to make Facebook even more secure by keeping the data out of a centralised vault accessible through one server. After the latest Cambridge Analytica fiasco, it should be no surprise Facebook is committed to protecting user data.
It’s much too early to say what influence Blockchain technology will have on Facebook. However, it does go to show that we can expect the revolutions discovered through cryptocurrency to keep spreading and finding new applications across the net.