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Why It Makes Sense For Facebook to Move Into the Brave New World of Blockchain

Facebook is still reeling after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but it’s not stopping the company from making some big changes.

The tech behemoth announced that it will appoint new heads for WhatsApp, Messenger, and the Facebook core app while it shifts the responsibilities of its longtime executives to focus on the blockchain. In fact, Facebook is dedicating an entire team to the emerging technology.

David Marcus, the executive formerly in charge of Messenger, will be the head of the blockchain group. 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.”

So what could Facebook be doing with a distributed ledger technology that, in its essence, is at odds with the premise of a centralized company like Facebook. As CNBC noted, blockchain has data stored across a network of computers, while Facebook is a massive centralized organization that owns the infrastructure and data of its 2 billion global users.

It’s not too far-fetched to speculate that Facebook is taking its users’ backlash over data and privacy seriously. Back in January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that decentralized systems — like cryptocurrency — could take power away from the centralized system and place it back in the hands of users. He added: “But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.”

In other words, this could be an exploratory move for Facebook to stay on top of the trends in the crypto industry, but it could also hint at a possibility that Facebook is open to leveraging the blockchain to help users control (and maybe even) monetize their data.