Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is exploring blockchain technology for users of the world’s largest social media platform. If implemented, Facebook’s 1.52 billion daily active users would interface with blockchain technology when logging in to their accounts.
In an interview with Harvard Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Zuckerberg expresses particular interest in improving authentication by using the underlying technology of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency: blockchain.
“You basically take your information, you store it on some decentralized system, and you have the choice of whether to log in in different places, and you’re not going through an intermediary.”
“There’s a lot of things that I think would be quite attractive about that. For developers, one of the things that is really troubling about working with our system, or Google’s system for that matter, or having to deliver services through Apple’s App Store is that you don’t want to have an intermediary between serving the people who are using your service and you.”
Zuckerberg posted the interview to his Facebook page as part of series dedicated to discussions about “information fiduciaries, encryption, decentralized services, governance, fighting misinformation, different business models, privacy innovation, and future research areas.”
The post received mixed reactions from some of Facebook’s 1.52 billion daily users who appear to have gotten burned by the company’s recent privacy scandals and data breaches.
Writes one user,
“Data on sale. 50% discount, all credit card are accepted, visit your local Facebook offices.”
Another user commented,
“Solve cyber hacking on FB. I complained about an account created in my name and lame FB response was to deactivate my original account. Therefore, nothing was done to stop the hack from happening to someone else. What kind of work does the new Cambridge office plan on doing besides banging on drums, taking naps, going to the bar or working out?”
Under ongoing scrutiny, Zuckerberg is looking for ways to give users more control over their data. A fully distributed blockchain system for Facebook could allow individuals to choose which applications have access to their data. But Zuckerberg says a decentralized system would create difficult challenges.
“In a fully distributed system, there’d be nobody who could cut off their access. A fully distributed system empowers individuals on the one hand, but it really raises the stakes.”
“It’s a lot easier to hold accountable large companies like Facebook or Google rather than a series of third-party apps. You’d also have more cases of abuse, and the recourse would be much harder.”
In February, Facebook acquired Chainspace, a blockchain firm founded by researchers from University College London. Sources tell Cheddar that the investment was an “acqui-hire,” designed to harvest the Chainspace team where developers have been working on building a distributed web of blockchains for scalability, speed and privacy.