From concerns over data privacy to lack of transparency surrounding paid content, Facebook has come under fire globally regarding a number of accusations.
But could blockchain restore trust and accountability in the social media giant?
Prominent blockchain developer Sunny King certainly thinks so.
“Transparency is probably one of the most prominent features of blockchain technology,” King told Coincast News.
“To accommodate the data privacy need of specific applications, several technologies are potentially available on blockchain systems. Among them there are data encryptions, digital signatures and a more advanced version known as zero knowledge proofs.”
King has developed and created a number of projects using blockchain, including PeerCoin, the first proof-of-stake cryptocurrency, which launched in 2012, and is currently leading VEE.tech, a blockchain database cloud project.
“One of Project VEE’s goals is to support a privacy features layer that incorporates the latest technologies to enable the best privacy protection on blockchain networks,” King said.
“We’ll use these innovative technologies to ensure that users’ data has proper access control and cannot be tampered with.”
King said his vision was to create an ecosystem where multitudes of customised blockchains would support all manner of applications for business and public service purposes.
“That vision includes what the cutting-edge information security features bring,” he said.
“Blockchain networks, as an upgraded technology of peer-to-peer networks, offer a very different proposition to the client-server networks including the popular cloud systems in use currently, when it comes to handling data.
“On a decentralised blockchain system, the information is stored in a tamper-proof format on a trustless distributed network, which can be more secure yet more transparent than the best cloud systems.
“So sure enough, blockchain can definitely help… in fact, it can be argued that a revolution is going on with how personal data is treated in the blockchain world, more as private property rather than corporate assets.”
Earlier this month, Australia’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission released a report calling for an investigation into Google and Facebook over concerns of potential ‘discriminatory conduct’.
The ACCC’s preliminary report stated that there was a lack of transparency, particularly when it came to the use of algorithms in determining what paid content was actually seen by users.
For advertisers, the ACCC report found that they were unable to verify whether advertisements on Google and Facebook were actually delivered to their targeted audience.
In relation to Facebook in particular, the report found there was a lack of ability to negotiate on the price paid per boosted post.
The report is the first of its kind globally to look at the impact of tech giants on media and advertising markets, and the report indicates that the ACCC is now considering whether an ombudsman should be established to deal with Facebook and Google complaints.
“There are a number of projects under way that leverage blockchain within the digital advertising space,” King said.
“The current situation is overly complex, opaque, and controls over how consumer data is stored and used are lax and frequently ignored.
“An open, decentralised blockchain-based digital ads market would rationalise this model, enabling a next generation system-of-record for all participants in the digital advertising ecosystem as to where their ad-spend and security will be bolstered.”
King said if deals were executed as smart contracts on blockchain, delivery and performance specs would be immediately available to all parties throughout the blockchain’s shared and distributed ledger.
“This would improve standardisation and transparency of buying and selling ads, which are missing in today’s digital advertising landscape,” he said.
Considering Google and Facebook reaped more than 90 per cent of the total US$88 billion spent on online ads globally last year, blockchain could be what the advertising industry needs to keep these digital platforms in check.
“We should see digital ads as a true asset class with tradability, traceable resale and liquidity,” King said.
“End-users would benefit from the better speed and efficiency of the system by receiving more relevant ads. And they would be able to click on the ads that interest them with more confidence, knowing that the likelihood of ‘malvertising’ (malware advertising) is much lower on a blockchain-based system.
“Any large advertising system exchanges billions of pieces of data every day, so to run on a blockchain, it requires a scalable and stable infrastructure – the kind of infrastructure Project VEE aims to build.”
Facebook is already searching for recruits to join its own blockchain army, last week advertising for several different blockchain engineering roles, following its appointment of former PayPal president David Marcus as Facebook director of engineering, blockchain.
And the social media giant’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has publicly commented on the potential for blockchain and cryptocurrencies, posting on Facebook about how he’d be ‘interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects’ of the technology.
So, blockchain could be coming to your Facebook feed sooner than you think.