Large social networks with a billion-dollar audience continue to talk about the blockchain technology. Facebook is changing their workers, and Telegram is developing a blockchain-related passport. How serious their intentions regarding blockchain are, and what can the new technology change?
An employee of the future
In May 2018, Facebook had their unit for blockchain study launched. It was led by David Marcus, the company’s executive director, who previously headed up the Facebook messaging application development process. After that, the Facebook team issued a statement looking for blockchain-specialists.
Over the past three weeks, Facebook has posted ads in a vacancy section searching for five experts on the blockchain. Instagram executives including the Vice President of design James Everingham and Vice President of product Kevin Weil will also partake in the project.
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. – David Marcus, executive director
In July of this year, another noticeable shake-up took place on the social network. Facebook’s engineering director, Evan Cheng, became the director of blockchain engineering for the company. Cheng himself did not comment on it. Before joining Facebook, Cheng spent almost ten years working for Apple product development. He also serves as an advisor to several blockchain projects, including Zilliqa and ChainLink. According to some market participants, such personnel changes point to Facebook’s serious intentions regarding the distributed registry technology.
The development of the blockchain department takes place at a very inconvenient time for the social network – in early August, the company’s shares fell by 20% after the publication of corporate reports. The company showed a profit, but investors and analysts were counting on high performance. For the second quarter of 2018, Facebook’s revenue increased by almost 42% to $13.23 billion. The prior analysts predicted higher growth rates and indicators at $13.36 billion. What would have been successful for other companies, was be a step backward for Facebook, so investors reacted by selling the company’s stock.
A series of scandals around social network personal data leakage also affected Facebook. Following the story of Cambridge Analytica, which illegally obtained data of more than 50 million users, Zuckerberg was accused of providing personal data to mobile phone manufacturers without notifying the owners.
Against the background of falling stocks, using blockchain achievements to improve Facebook sounds more and more like a tempting offer, but time will tell whether it will lead to some significant results or not.
At the beginning of 2018, Pavel Durov, the creator of the social network Vkontakte and the Telegram Messenger, unofficially presented a new blockchain network project called TON. The developers of TON announced their intention to “give cryptocurrency back its freedom” using the Proof-of-Stake system, where the new units are entered into the register by the cryptocurrency owners. The main advantage of the new project was said to be the readiness of the target audience. It aroused a big interest among Russian and foreign investors, who invested more than $1.7 billion during the two closed rounds of Pre-ICO.
In the future, Telegram Passport will become a part of TON’s blockchain system from Telegram developers. The service will identify users who intend to use TON and the platform partner services.
The first step of the ICO was to create a network for smart contracts execution. In late July, Telegram unveiled a new project, Telegram Passport, which may be one of the links to a new blockchain system. Unlike Facebook, that prohibited even to advertise ICO, the creators of Telegram Passport assure their project has been designed for cryptocurrency “fans.”
“Our program allows you to upload your documents once and then instantly share with your data services that need your documents (finance, ICO, and more).”
Unlike Facebook, digital passport creators offer users to upload their data to a computer, that will store everything in test mode for about an hour. In the future, the data will permanently stay in the system and could be used for making purchases. At the same time, the company assures it will not have access to personal data because of coding. To use the digital passport, you should enter a password.
According to computer security experts, Telegram-passport weak point hides precisely in the password. The encryption mechanism chosen by the creators of the service is not suitable for this purpose. In the current state of affairs, however, attackers can quickly assemble a computer to hack the system. In this case, the cost of hacking will amount to only $135 per passport, experts say.
The main danger that awaits passport holders is the loss or change of data.
“If your digital signature is absent, your data can be changed in such a way that you or a recipient of the data will not know about it,” – Vigil Security/ computer and networking security consulting.
Both Facebook and Telegram want to involve the blockchain technology in their works. However, while Facebook is hiring engineers and researchers for its blockchain team, Telegram creators have already begun testing one of the future blockchain system elements. The results are yet to come, however, we are keeping our finger on the pulse.