Mark Zuckerberg has just posted on FB about cryptocurrency & encryption and "how best to use them in our services". The post was made exactly one week ago and he talks about the challenges of the upcoming year. You can read his original words on FB here or at the bottom of this post.
Mark's words in brief
He tells us the world feels anxious and divided right now and that Facebook has a lot of work to do.
whether it's protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.
He acknowledges Facebook makes many errors enforcing its polices and states that he will be focussing intently on these issues this year.
These issues touch on questions of history, civics, political philosophy, media, government, and of course technology. I'm looking forward to bringing groups of experts together to discuss and help work through these topics.
centralisation vs decentralisation
Now this is where it starts to get interesting.
He claims that many businesses got into technology because they believed it would be a decentralising force, putting more power into the hands of the people.
With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.
He goes on to describe two counter-trends, encryption & cryptocurrency which take the power away from centralised systems and genuinely give it back to the people. However, he describes these counter trends as a risk because they are harder to control.
He finishes with a clear mission statement:
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.
What do these words say to you?
To me the message is clear. We know he has been watching Steemit (quoted by Forbes as being the fastest growing social media platform ever created) and we can be sure he has been scratching his head about how to compete with us. He says he is looking at how best to use encryption & cryptocurrency in his services. But let's face it, there are not too many ways he can go about integrating cryptocurrency into Facebook without creating a similar model to Steemit.
Without some kind of reward system he will quickly find his platform filling up with Steemit posts and an ever growing number of people saying goodbye to their old Facebook ways, spending more and more time on Steemit.
The only logical step is a Facebook coin, potentially with a blockchain of its own, owned and controlled by him of course.
A rigged reward system
The reward system would be controlled by Facebook. Rather like the way YouTube is now controlling its own reward system, reducing the visibility of content they would rather we didn't see whilst giving the greatest rewards to those who support them in some way.
His need for secrecy
If Facebook were to publicly announce the development of such a blockchain and associated coin, it would immediately open the floodgates to all the competitors such as Twitter, Instagram & Snapchat. And they don't want this at all. They want to be the first mainstream social medial platform to integrate successfully.
It is therefore logical to assume development has already begun but it will be some time yet before we hear anything about it.
Steemit has set a high standard to beat
It was always only a question of time before this would happen but with Steemit on the tip of everyones' tongue today it feels as if Facebook is already too late. Our newly born platform isn't perfect but it clearly works. And right now it is making many people very happy indeed, not just because we have a fantastic international community here, but because they are seeing with their own eyes the results of their efforts in their wallets and best of all, the value of their currency (and consequently the size of their wallet) increasing.
Steemit has momentum now and Mark is looking at a very steep hill to climb if he is to build a blockchain and integrate a simple functionality reward & wallet system into his platform.
A potential Litecoin solution?
Perhaps he will take a short cut and seek to integrate an established coin such as Litecoin. Though how he will going about doing this with blockchain not designed specifically for this purpose (unlike the Steem blockchain) is a question I simply cannot answer.
There were whispers last month about Litecoin seeking mainstream partnerships such as this, but without having ownership of Litecoin itself, Mark will again come back his problem of not being able to control the system. Unless of course he finds a way to gain ownership!
Whatever happens, we can rest assured that Steemit has firmly established as the leader in this arena and with the plethora of platforms growing out of the Steem blockchain, such as DTube & DSound, it feels very much as if any competitors are already a long way behind and will be playing catch-up for years yet, potentially without ever achieving success at all.
Best of luck to you Mark but I know which horse my money is on.
Mark's full Facebook post:
Every year I take on a personal challenge to learn something new. I've visited every US state, run 365 miles, built an AI for my home, read 25 books, and learned Mandarin.
I started doing these challenges in 2009. That first year the economy was in a deep recession and Facebook was not yet profitable. We needed to get serious about making sure Facebook had a sustainable business model. It was a serious year, and I wore a tie every day as a reminder.
Today feels a lot like that first year. The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do -- whether it's protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.
My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won't prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we're successful this year then we'll end 2018 on a much better trajectory.
This may not seem like a personal challenge on its face, but I think I'll learn more by focusing intensely on these issues than I would by doing something completely separate. These issues touch on questions of history, civics, political philosophy, media, government, and of course technology. I'm looking forward to bringing groups of experts together to discuss and help work through these topics.
For example, one of the most interesting questions in technology right now is about centralization vs decentralization. A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people's hands. (The first four words of Facebook's mission have always been "give people the power".) Back in the 1990s and 2000s, most people believed technology would be a decentralizing force.
But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.
There are important counter-trends to this --like encryption and cryptocurrency -- that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people's hands. 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 will be a serious year of self-improvement and I'm looking forward to learning from working to fix our issues together.
--- Mark Zuckerberg
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