Facebook Taps Blockchain Technology in Broader Executive Shakeup

The company sets up a blockchain work group with head of FB Messenger in the lead

by Kalina Tekelieva
09 May • 2.5 min
In News

In an effort to explore applications of the blockchain technology, social media giant Facebook will set up a blockchain work group within a larger executive reschuffle.

Stepping down as head of Facebook’s messaging app Messenger, David Marcus will be at the helm of the new blockchain unit. In a post published on his Facebook profile on Tuesday, Marcus said he will establish “a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook”.

Marcus, who is also board member of US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, did not mention which segments of Facebook’s business could possible employ blockchain in the future.



Although the experimental group will start working “from scratch”, the idea to explore the application of blockchain technology is not new to Facebook. In January, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post he is interested to scrutinize the positive and negative sides of technologies like cryptocurrencies (based on blockchain), which could “take power from centralized systems and put it back into people's hands”.


Reorganization of business

The establishment of a unit dedicated to blockchain comes amidst a broader executive reform at Facebook, technology news outlet Recode reported on Tuesday. The social media giant will restructure its product and engineering departments into three main divisions.

-          “Family of apps” – headed by Chris Cox, who was in charge of the Facebook app;

-          “Central product services” – led by vice president of growth Javier Olivan;

-          “New platforms and infra” – with David Marcus at the head, including the new blockchain team.

With the move, Facebook aims to improve communication between executives, as well as user privacy, Recode wrote without quoting sources. The company seeks to weather the user data protection storm that broke out after British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica was found in March to have harvested the personal data of nearly 87 million Facebook users.


Benefits for social networks

The privacy abuse that emerged of the Cambridge Analytica case is seen by blockchain supporters as one of the problems that can be tackled with the technology. Blockchain is an electronic distributed ledger where every member of the network can choose what data they will give away and can track their data thanks to the decentralized nature of the technology.

Moreover, blockchain could provide a way of rewarding social media users for their actions on the platforms. In other words, the technology could be used to quantify what a user is worth to a network and those who actively participate and create value for the network can get a compensation for that.

Another issue that blockchain could solve is accessing blocked content. In countries like China and Syria where the Internet is censored, the technology can allow users to access social networks in spite of the ban.