Social media giant Facebook has created a new internal group dedicated to exploring blockchain technology. This has led to speculation that the social media giant is looking to launch its own virtual currency. Further reinforcing this is the fact that the head of the new blockchain technology group is David Marcus, who was previously running Facebook Messenger.
Additionally Marcus sits on the board of Coinbase, a digital currency exchange, where he joined last year in December. Prior to joining Facebook Marcus was a former PayPal president and therefore has a lot of expertise in the payments sector.However Facebook was non-committal on what exactly it intends to achieve with the blockchain group.
“Like many other companies Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team will be exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
During his time in charge of Messenger Marcus oversaw the spinning off of the app from the main Facebook app. Additionally Messenger increasingly pushed into shopping, customer service bots and advertising during Marcus’ reign.Though it is not guaranteed that Facebook will launch its own digital currency, there are many other ways the blockchain technology could be put to use and this includes encrypted data storage.
Earlier in the year the chief executive officer of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, had signaled the company’s interests in blockchain technology after he said that the social media giant would be looking into both the negative and positive aspect of the technologies with a view to using them with regards to Facebook’s services.
If Facebook goes ahead to develop its own cryptocurrency this would not be the first time the social media giant would be experimenting with them. Almost a decade ago the social media network unveiled Facebook Credits which was meant to make it easy for users to buy virtual goods in games available on the platform such as Farmville. The virtual currency met with limited success and was abandoned in 2011.
This comes in the wake of the release of Facebook ads which were created by the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed outfit, in a bid to influence the 2016 presidential election in the United States. According to an analysis conducted on the ads most of them were focused on dividing Americans based on race. About 3,500 Facebook ads were released and over half of them expressly made references to race and these resulted in ad impressions numbering 25 million.