Is Facebook really planning a Bitcoin rival? We dissect Mark Zuckerberg’s cryptic statements

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has expressed an interest in cryptocurrency and its potential to help Facebook “give people the power”. Could the social media giant be considering its own Bitcoin rival? We separate fact from fiction.

Zuckerberg said that as part of a year of self-improvement, he’s keen to take a closer look at technologies that fly in the face of how big companies and governments typically centralise power and monitor their citizens.

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“There are important counter-trends to this  – like encryption and cryptocurrency – that take power from centralised systems and put it back into people’s hands,” he writes in a Facebook blog post.

“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.”

This would suggest that Zuckerberg is potentially looking at how cryptocurrencies – think Bitcoin, Ripple, and others – could be deployed within Facebook’s ecosystem. After all, the distributed and unregulated nature of many cryptocurrencies make it difficult for governments to interfere with – although, conversely, this does have the effect of making such currencies wildly unstable.

While Zuckerberg’s post also outlines plans to ‘fix’ issues in Facebook – such as its policies, the way it tackles abusive content and defends against interference from nation states – he didn’t explicitly say cryptocurrencies and encryption were the solution to such problems.

Despite what you might have read in some reports in the tech media, nor is Zuckerberg obviously backing the adoption of cryptocurrencies or saying Facebook is pursuing its own digital currency solution.

In our opinion, he’s simply suggesting that it’s an area of interest and one worth monitoring. The same sentiment you’d hear from practically any business leader in 2018.

Zuckerberg concluded by saying: “This will be a serious year of self-improvement and I’m looking forward to learning from working to fix our issues together.”

Such a statement suggests there will be plenty of changes and action from Facebook in 2018. But only time will tell if that involves greater use of encryption technologies and the eventual adoption of cryptocurrencies.

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