What if Facebook and all subsidiaries go decentralized?

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Credit: Timothy Hales Bennett on Unsplash

What happened on a peaceful night of 4th October?

Facebook said in a blog post Monday night that the six-hour outage that took it offline along with Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and OculusVR was the result of a configuration change to its routers — not of a hack or attempt to get at user data. The explanation doesn’t give much in the way of detail, but it seems like Facebook’s machines weren’t able to talk to one another — Facebook says that “this disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt.”

CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted an apology Monday evening, saying the platforms were coming back online. “Sorry for the disruption today — I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about.”

The outage began around 11:40AM ET Monday, and led to widespread problems for the company. It was Facebook’s worst outage since 2019, when the site was down for more than 24 hours. Employees were unable to connect with each other on company message boards, and some told The Verge they were using work-provided Outlook email accounts to communicate.

The problems appeared to begin with a routine BGP update that went wrong, wiping out the DNS routing information that Facebook needs to allow other networks to find its sites.

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So… what if The Social Network ran on a decentralized network?

Decentralization means not having one central authority over a specific entity: the Facebook data. What if the whole of Facebook used P2P networks instead of the traditional distributed systems?

The advantages of running it on Blockchain Technology:

  1. Whenever any one of the nodes are taken down either by a hacking attempt or any simple hardware failure, the whole web service won’t go down with it. Each node in a P2P network preserves a copy of the blockchain with them, they essentially are servers themselves.
  2. There will be a guaranteed data privacy and security ensured. The whole system will be resistant against data leaks and the companies responsible for the data cannot sell their data to other companies for a profit.
  3. Gig economies thrive through social media interactions and the payment gateway can be completely secured through any crypto-coin technology like Bitcoin.

The disadvantages of running it on Blockchain Technology:

  1. Posting, liking and commenting are basic features of any social media platform and providing those features on a decentralized network can prove costly for users/companies since any data change in the blockchain can result in mining fees to be paid either by the company(letting users post for free) or the user themselves.
  2. Censorship on those platforms will be nearly impossible as we can’t have any link between a controversial post and the user who posted it on the platform. No traces cannot be generated or revealed when posting on a social media platform run on a blockchain network.
  3. The application itself would become less user friendly because most browsers don’t understand how to interact with those networks natively. An interface like MetaMask is required and if the user does not properly understand how MetaMask works, it would lead to undesirable consequences.

Conclusion of this discussion

It would solve a lot of issues Facebook is facing a company (data privacy and security and so on) if they shifted over to a blockchain network. But this shift comes with its own set of disadvantages addressed above and it would open up the application and the company to potential new problems or lawsuits.

References

Highlights & transcript from Zuckerberg’s 20K-word ethics talk

Mark Zuckerberg is ‘potentially interested’ in putting Facebook login on the blockchain

Facebook has finally given a reason for the six-hour outage Monday


What if Facebook and all subsidiaries go decentralized? was originally published in Coinmonks on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.