David Marcus, who was the Head of Messenger at Facebook, has announced he will create a group dedicated to applying blockchain technology to Facebook. He was previously President of Paypal and is currently a board member of Coinbase, a popular cryptocurrency exchange.
He said: "After nearly four unbelievably rewarding years leading Messenger, I have decided it was time for me to take on a new challenge. I'm setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch."
"It's been an honor to lead the amazing Messenger team, their commitment to making Messenger the best it can be is unsurpassed. I will miss them but I know Messenger is in great hands with Stan Chudnovsky and they will continue to create amazing experiences for all the people who depend on it around the world."
It is unclear whether or not Facebook will be creating their own cryptocurrency or will look at using existing coins for transactions. They also did not specify whether the focus will be on storing data or making in-app payments. One possible use of blockchain technology is to give control to users over how their data is accessed and used. Several projects, including Datum, have created a marketplace for users to sell their data.
Facebook hit the news recently when it emerged that Cambridge Analytica harvested more than 50 million Facebook profiles and held the data even though it was supposed to be deleted. It was reported that they kept the data through the Presidential Election and that they were able to use the data to predict user's voting habits. On May 2, the Wall Street Journal stated that Cambridge Analytica began closing and started insolvency procedures.
Cryptocurrencies are not currently in favor at Facebook as they banned advertisements for them in January. Rob Leathern, Product Management Director, said: "Two of our core advertising principles outline our belief that ads should be safe, and that we build for people first. Misleading or deceptive ads have no place on Facebook."
"We’ve created a new policy that prohibits ads that promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency."
Martin Lewis is currently suing Facebook for allowing ads which featured his face on them as though he was endorsing the ICO or cryptocurrency. While the blanket ban may avoid such lawsuits in the future, the new policy does state that it will be revisited as their 'signals' improve.