When you think of Facebook today, a pioneer in privacy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But you should, at least according to its founder Mark Zuckerberg. In a recent interview, Zuckerberg broke down all the efforts that the social media giant has made to secure user data.
Since it was founded to cater to Havard students, its users have trusted that their data is being safeguarded. And it has, for the most part, Zuckerberg believes. However, it’s difficult to take his remarks at face value.
Recent incidents have tainted the impeccable image the platform has enjoyed from its 2.5 billion users, half of whom are daily active users. The Cambridge Analytica incident was one of the biggest data breach scandals, and it sparked the call for tighter regulations for big tech companies.
However, in a more positive note, Zuckerberg was full of praise for blockchain technology. He is excited about the impact it will have, he said. It will give users the ultimate control over their data. The users will then only share their data with entities of choice, and possibly even get compensated for it.
This year I'm hosting a series of discussions on the future of technology and society. Here's the first one with Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain.I joined his seminar and we covered topics including information fiduciaries, encryption, decentralized services, governance, fighting misinformation, different business models, privacy innovation, and future research areas.I found his ideas fascinating. We spoke for almost two hours and still only got through about a third of what we hoped to discuss. I'm looking forward to continuing this series soon and covering more topics beyond the internet.
Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, February 20, 2019
There’s more to it than meets the eye, he continued. Decentralization will rid the systems of intermediaries such as Facebook and Google. However, it will also expose users to having their data being misused by unscrupulous people. Many users will end up sharing their data without any knowledge of how it will be used. The people who harvest this data will have no one to answer to. There will be no one to prevent another Cambridge Analytica incident. Ironic, isn’t it?
A Decentralized Facebook
Ever since the emergence of decentralized applications, there have been calls for Facebook to become decentralized. These calls have also implored developers to create a decentralized platform to take on Facebook and other social media platforms. And they have, but with limited success.
However, if you are waiting for a decentralized Facebook, it’s not coming. In the interview, which Zuckerberg had with Havard law professor Jonathan Zittrain, he made it clear that he was all for decentralization. A fully decentralized Facebook, however, is a pipe dream that will most likely never materialize.
He does believe though that there are aspects of the platform that blockchain can impact. One of these is authentication. This is an area that Zuckerberg has had an interest in for quite some time, he told Zittrain. He described it as “doing what we’ve done with Facebook Connect in a decentralized platform.” Facebook Connect is a single sign-on platform that allows its users to log in to other platforms using their Facebook account.
Already, several startups have sprung up offering a decentralized version of Facebook Connect. One of them is Civic, a startup that promises to give its users control over their identity. Civic and other such startups have found varied levels of success. However, should Facebook Connect become decentralized, it would be miles ahead of them given the huge number of users it enjoys.