The world's largest social media outlet became embroiled in scandal this week, with Facebook having billions of dollars wiped from its stock market value after the news broke political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica had taken personal information from more than 50 million users without consent to help out the Trump campaign in the presidential race in 2016.
However, could the woes faced by Facebook be good news for blockchain technology?
The answer is maybe. While decentralized blockchain allows users to see exactly what data about them is being shared and where, it is unlikely it will be able to prevent data misuse.
Instead of posting photos to a centralized like Facebook, with blockchain, people instead will share data like photos directly with people, maintaining the ability to track them and ensuring they are not shared with people who get access to their information.
While blockchain has the ability to solve the transparency issue, allowing a user to keep tabs on data that belongs to them and how it is shared, it does not solve the issue of control and will fail to prevent misuse of data in the first place.
Due to its decentralized and anonymous nature, the cryptocurrency space also brings with it risks, leading to governments globally to place controls on the industry. The US National Security Agency (NSA) has made it a priority since 2013 to monitor blockchain in an effort to help track down receivers and senders of Bitcoin.
For now a fundamental flaw of blockchain is the notions of grandeur it brings with it. It wants to displace the existing order, be it money, the financial sector, democratic government, social media…or, any other industry, pick one and there is probably a white paper outlining a token-based decentralized system waiting to take over from the current system.
We are however at the point at where blockchain could be used to construct, for example a smaller-scale decentralized social network. There is a long way to go before Facebook is usurped and maybe Facebook will work harder to plug its data leaking, for now, the possibility exists.