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Facebook creates group dedicated to studying blockchain

It's run by the Messenger team's former boss.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
May 8, 2018
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Reuters/Stephen Lam

Just because Facebook isn't keen on cryptocurrency ads doesn't mean it's against some of the underlying technology. The social network is creating a group devoted to exploring ways it can use ultra-trendy blockchain across its products, "starting from scratch." The division will be run by David Marcus, who's leaving his role as the head of the Messenger team, and will include outgoing Instagram product VP Kevin Weil. Not much more is known beyond that, however, including what Facebook might do blockchain tech.

It's tempting to suggest blockchain might be used for payments when Mark Zuckerberg had expressed a desire to look into cryptocurrencies. However, that's far from guaranteed. Outside of digital money, it's most commonly used as a decentralized, secure approach to establishing trust. You can verify someone's ID without having to go through a central service, as an example. Facebook could theoretically use this to check credentials, or even to trace user data collected by third parties.

If Facebook does find practical uses, it could be a while before you see any results. It won't be at all shocking if the company does something, however. Facebook is under intense pressure to keep a tighter lid on users' data following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and it would only make sense for the social site to consider anything that would prevent a repeat incident.

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