Facebook’s blockchain team is a hush project that the company has been keeping under wraps for months. The team, which started in May under the leadership of David Marcus, is currently looking for a head of business development. The division may be looking for more allies, for which they need someone with experience and proficiency in dealmaking. There are a total of six job openings in the division, signifying rapid development.

No Small Feat to Get Hired by Facebook

Aside from a business development head, the company currently has five more job openings. One is for a public policy manager, another for a media director, two jobs in marketing and one for a software engineering manager in Israel.

The social networking giant’s posting of “Head of Business Development & Partnerships” is open at its Silicon Valley headquarter. It requires someone with at least 15 years of experience in business development. The company wants a candidate who can “Lead, grow and mentor a global team of experienced business development professionals.”

For Facebook, partnerships and acquisitions have been the standard of doing business. It expanded its reach into instant messaging by buying WhatsApp for $19 billion. Later, it went on to buy Instagram for $1 billion and then Oculus, a virtual reality hardware developer, for $2 billion. The company has been expanding in different areas, turning into a humongous corporation in the process. The new dealmaker could help in forwarding the company’s mission to get another blockchain company on board.

The job posting doesn’t detail if mergers and acquisitions will be part of the business development lead’s job, but it states that such person will work on “strategy and investments while also negotiating and closing deals.”

What Is the Blockchain Team at Facebook Doing?

Little is known about the Facebook blockchain team and its functions. In his January 2018 mission statement, co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he is interested in blockchain technology as it decentralizes power, but nothing happened in the public eye for four months. However, in May, the leader of Facebook Messenger, David Marcus, was called upon to head a “small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.”

Marcus also served on the board of Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the US. He stepped down from his role in August. The company hasn’t revealed anything about its plans yet, but a close look at the job posting suggests that an artificial intelligence platform could be in the making. The company could also focus on “new ways to share information” while developing new financial services.

*This post is credited to Blokt

If you are a netizen, you must have already noticed how certain ads pop up while you are surfing videos on YouTube. Most of the times, these advertisements have close connections to the products and brands you have been searching recently. However, this is not the case always! Finding fake ads of reputed brands like Mercedes-Benz and Waitrose is not uncommon at all. According to reports from The Times of London, several reputed brands have found their advertisements among objectionable and explicit content.

Why should you care about online ad fraud?
If you are an advertiser, this should be a cause of concern for you. According to a recent study, over 20% of the clicks you are getting on your ads can be from bots and tricksters. Censoring the internet and running the entire web without advertisement is impossible. In short, good content and commendable user experience require sponsorship.

Sadly, advertisers are pouring money into digital ads, but they are not receiving the returns they expect. The advent of various smart devices may have expanded the scope of viewing content, but they have done little to ensure that the content is genuine.

According to the Association of National Advertisers, entrepreneurs are wasting over $7 billion on online adverts people do not see. The experts expect the numbers to grow beyond $335.5 billion in the next two years. When companies are ready to spend billions on online advertisements, it is understandable why malicious activities are always around the corner, waiting.

We have seen the likes of Meth-bot that cost the ad industry around $5 million per day. They used bots to mimic human data, created over 250,000 individual domains. These new sites had a resemblance to big fish like ESPN and Vogue.

Digital ad fraud is a serious concern for advertisers and users, too. While the fraudsters use bots to mimic human behavior, trace cursor movements, and hack social media accounts, they fake their geo-location data to avoid detection. As a result, along with regular display ads, the premium online video advertisements are also taking a hit. Digital fraudsters are messing up analytical data, upturning the KPIs and disrupting online campaigns of many of the more reputable brands in the world.

Blockchain as a potential solution to online fraud
Is there any current technology that can prevent pixel stuffing, ad stacking, search ad frauds and affiliate ad frauds? Experts say that it’s possible. They believe that advertisers can prevent similar frauds by turning to blockchain. We are not talking about cryptocurrencies, but the decentralized open-source ledgers.

A fusion of existing ad technology and blockchain can give advertisers the power to keep an eye on each impression and eliminate the fear of fraud. Leading advertising research firms like Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Tech Lab and Data & Marketing Associations already are working on creating a blockchain solution that can help advertisers detect and prevent fraudulent activities. However, the wide variety of online ad frauds make the task of developing a uniform system difficult.

Below are the major use cases of blockchain that can be implemented to prevent online ad frauds:

Ethereum-based ready solutions – Several startups and advertising research companies have been working on blockchain systems that can stop bots and impostors. Ethereum is the best-known blockchain right after Bitcoin. Instead of a central ad server, it offers a decentralized system to advertisers to monitor the activity of their partners. Google, Amazon, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat have adopted similar history-proof, decentralized ledgers.

Blockchain counterattack – This mechanism adopted by the Ads.txt DApp allows publishers and content owners to list the authorized sellers of their inventory in a .txt file. This file is served from within the root path of their domain’s web server.

Blockchain-based exchange for traders – A combination of the financial matching engine and the latest blockchain technology allows advertisers to enable transparent transactions. It is a NASDAQ Inc. initiative that aims to provide advertisers and publishers a completely secure platform that supports buying, selling and re-trading advertising contracts.

In the digital era, online ads are an important channel for brands to use to reach out to their target audience. Ad fraud not only puts a hole in the pocket of the brands but also harms the end users, who need reliable information to make the right decisions. With the ability to impart transparency to the system and trace an online asset, blockchain can surely help reduce, if not completely stop digital fraud.

*This post is credited to isaca.org.

Companies don’t want to be left off of the blockchain bandwagon.

In a new report published by PwC on Monday, 84 percent of executives surveyed said their companies are “actively involved” with the technology.

“Everyone is talking about blockchain, and no one wants to be left behind,” according to PwC’s 2018 Global Blockchain Survey, which included 600 executives from 15 territories.

Blockchain is the technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. It records transactions on a public, distributed ledger and gets rid of the need for a third party in most cases. The technology is touted as faster and more secure by advocates and is being tested for everything from health records to the legal marijuana industry.

Among the PwC respondents, who were business executives with technology responsibilities, 45 percent said “trust” could be the key roadblock in blockchain’s widespread adoption.

“In reality, companies confront trust issues at nearly every turn,” PwC said. “As with any emerging technology, challenges and doubts exist around blockchain’s reliability, speed, security and scalability.”

While high profile investors like Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon have been publicly wary of investing in cryptocurrency, they’re far more bullish on its underlying tech.

Companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook are exploring use cases for the technology. Facebook announced in May it is going through a reorganization that will include a new blockchain effort. IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, JP Morgan, and HSBC are among the other corporate names with similar initiatives.

Still, respondents mentioned regulatory uncertainty, “ability to bring the network together,” compliance concerns, and intellectual property concerns as key obstacles for blockchain adoption.

Blockchain’s potential has been compared to the internet but so has its hype. In some well-publicized cases, even adding the word “blockchain” to a public company’s name can send its shares skyrocketing in a single day.

Despite the growing interest, other research from Cowen estimated it will take 5.9 years for blockchain to gain widespread adoption.

*Post is credited to CNBC

  • Facebook’s blockchain boss David Marcus is leaving the board of crypto startup Coinbase.
  • His departure is a signal that the social networking giant’s secretive blockchain efforts are progressing.
  • “Because of the new group I’m setting up at Facebook around Blockchain, I’ve decided it was appropriate for me to resign from the Coinbase board,” Marcus said in a statement.

In a sign that Facebook’s secretive blockchain effort is progressing, David Marcus, the head of that project, announced he’s leaving the board of $8 billion cryptocurrency startup Coinbase.

Marcus joined Coinbase’s board in December 2017. His decision to resign “was made to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest,” a Coinbase representative told CoinDesk, which first reported the news. The representative did not elaborate further to CoinDesk, and a Coinbase representative did not respond to Business Insider’s request for more information.

“Because of the new group I’m setting up at Facebook around blockchain, I’ve decided it was appropriate for me to resign from the Coinbase board,” Marcus said in a statement provided to Business Insider by a Facebook representative.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong thanked Marcus for his service in a separate statement.

“David Marcus has been a wonderful addition to the Coinbase board, providing valuable perspective and mentorship,” Armstrong said in the statement.

Facebook may be planning its own payments network

Marcus’ move follows a report from Business Insider that Facebook has met with cryptocurrency payment technology startup Stellar. That move may indicate it plans to set up its own payments network.

Facebook’s blockchain team was first announced at the company’s F8 conference in May 2018. Marcus, a high-profile executive who previously led the company’s Messenger team and, prior to that, had served as president of payments firm PayPal, was appointed to lead the project.

Marcus is one of several heavy hitters Facebook has assigned to the effort, which some observers have interpreted as an indication of just how serious the Silicon Valley giant is about it. In addition to Marcus, the blockchain team includes Kevin Weil, the former head of product for Instagram; James Everingham, Instagram’s former head of engineering; and Evan Cheng, one of Facebook’s veteran senior engineers.

Beyond the appointments, Facebook has said little about its blockchain project.

*This post is credited to Business Insider

With the recent revelation that Russia may be still trying to influence U.S. elections, and Facebook announcing that there are ongoing attempts to target its users with “fake news” using fake accounts, it is clear that this ongoing social manipulation is not going away any time soon.  Facebook sold our not only our privacy but also our electoral future in order to enrich themselves. The impact of these indiscretions have materialized in weaker user and advertising growth. and the market has consequently punished the stock in the largest selloff in corporate history. That is not the focus of this article, but rather how these data breaches can potentially affect us for quite some time, and how blockchain can address some of these issues with regard to social media, potentially blunting the negative impact of the misuse of the data.

Big data and analytics is incredibly powerful

As a quick introduction as to why I have these concerns, I was one of the founders of a fintech data analytics firm that served hedge funds with insights gathered from large, aggregated data sets.  For example, in the auto space the firm scraped websites, aggregated DMV data and other information in order to provide almost real time insights into the public companies involved with selling, financing, and servicing vehicles.  In some cases, the data was so accurate, we effectively had the daily sales and with a very high degree of accuracy knew what public companies were going to report on earnings calls along with the credit profiles of their customers, changes in sales trends, and where the future guidance may be headed.  This was clearly a highly valuable service for the hedge funds buying the information. This was only one example, there are many industries where the same methodology could be, and has been, applied in a similar fashion.

The massive data breaches from Facebook and others opened the door

This gets us to Facebook, and how the personal information extracted from the platform, along with other data sets from hacks and intrusions, can be used to influence ongoing elections.  Unfortunately, this damage cannot be easily undone and the fallout could haunt us for quite some time. If you look at the hack attempts that were done during the last election, it was not necessarily and attempt to hack voting machines to change votes, but rather a massive download of voter registry data, personal data, and other information on the voters themselves.  This is something far more sinister. This is not an attempt to rig just one election by altering some votes, but rather influence every election going forward. Adding in the massive data breaches from Exactis, Equifax, multiple retailers, and other service providers there is a treasure trove of hyper specific data available on the U.S. electorate. Using the power of big data analytics, this combined data set will be valid for a long time to come, and we will face the repercussions from it for the foreseeable future.

Every key piece of data about you has been stolen and weaponized

Every bit of data about you is for sale via traditional marketing databases and the hacked data sets.  This includes address, email, home phone, cell phone, passwords, names and ages of your children, social security numbers, where you work, what you like to buy, possible political affiliations, religion, your income, shows and music you like, and the list goes on to give a very complete picture of the vast majority of the U.S. population.  When combined, the data set on almost every individual is extensive, complete and frightening. In unfriendly hands, it is powerful and dangerous. It doesn’t need to be limited to large countries or organizations, the data can be weaponized even by smaller organizations with limited budgets and modest technical skills.

“Fake news” and the microtargeting of the electorate

Combining this with the plague of “fake news” and fake profiles, this data can be effectively used to influence voters, with the ultimate goal of manipulating the ultimate outcomes of elections.  With the granularity of the data already in the wild, it potentially allows for unfriendly state actors to micro target elections. Meaning, not only who gets elected President or to Congress, but even down to the level of town boards, school elections, and other local politics.  The influence framework can be so targeted as to build from the local levels all the way up to the highest offices. While politicians have used data to influence elections for centuries it is only recently that we have become aware of outside actors attempting to use that data, on both the right and the left, to drive voter sentiment through pushing hysteria and “fake news.”

Pandora’s box has been opened, how can blockchain help contain it now?

I am involved in the blockchain ecosystem, and it struck me that the underlying technologies could be used to mitigate some of the damage that has already been done, and reduce the impact going forward. Can we use blockchain as a sort of decentralized certificate authority to verify legitimate news sources and user profiles? Can concepts such as zero-knowledge proof (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-knowledge_proof) be used for this authentication without having to reveal the underlying data, preserving personal information and anonymity where required? Can similar systems and concepts be used to verify advertisers? How else can social media and news organizations and individual users utilize blockchain to safeguard privacy, enhance trust and accuracy?  Can blockchain ultimately improve the experience for all stakeholders?

*This post is credited to Forbes.