According to a recent report on Cheddar, it’s been confirmed that Facebook is exploring the launch of its own digital currency, nicknamed “Facecoin” by the reporter. We covered this possibility way back in January, when Facebook started to ban ICO ads. At that time, we raised the possibility that Facebook would either integrate Litecoin, or that they would create their own token. Based on the reporting on Cheddar, it appears as though they have chosen the latter.
According to Cheddar, a source close to Facebook said, “They are very serious about it.” This should be obvious, as they began studying blockchain nearly a year ago when Morgan Beller, a member of the Facebook corporate development team, launched a study on blockchain. This was further amplified this week, when David Marcus, the VP of Facebook Messenger announced a new team to “explore how to best leverage blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.”
The “starting from scratch” comment may be a hint into the direction they are moving. First, it could support the aforementioned reporting that they are looking to create their own token. Second, it could mean a complete rebuild of Facebook. The company has gotten a lot of negative press lately, setting the stage for a rebuild to address concerns. People on the left of the political spectrum were infuriated by the Cambridge Analytica data warehousing, done using an app and data scraping. People on the right of the political spectrum have been upset about what had been reported to be trending stories with a left-leaning bias, and the suppression of right-leaning content. The market has already responded, with the popularity of alternative platforms like MeWe exploding. Already, many conservative and libertarian Facebook groups have begun testing the platform as an alternative for their audiences to post without fear of suppression or other concerns.
Facebook would not be the first social media platform to integrate blockchain technology or tokenized payments to its members. As YouTube has been demonetizing videos for political or other content, creators have been moving to platforms like DTube. DTube not only gives its users more freedom to post a broader array of content, but it pays them based on views and other criteria. Such a model may be possible for Facebook, where posting content, “likes” and “shares” could have a tokenized value assigned to them.
According to Cheddar, Facebook executives discuss plans with their employees on a regular basis. The company has a 10-year roadmap that investors and the public may view, but blockchain initiatives are not in the published plan. It should be noted however that the original publication of that roadmap was in 2016, before blockchain technology really began to reach critical mass. Facebook’s official statement regarding blockchain initiatives is, “This new small team will be exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share.”
Given that Facebook has already participated in a congressional hearing, regarding privacy and big data, it’s unlikely that they will launch any sort of ICO in the very near future. However, tokenization may not require such a fundraising vehicle, and there is still the possibility of utilizing an existing blockchain platform like Litecoin, or acquiring an existing company in the space.