Rumor patrol: Is Facebook really launching their own cryptocurrency?

Having seen the buzz around this pop up in several cryptocurrency groups/channels i'm part of this week, I decided to dig in and see what is just hype and speculation, and what's actually true.

This story really started at the beginning of this year - with Mark Zuckerberg simply stating in Janurary that he wanted to 'study decentralizing technologies like encryption and cryptocurrency'.

Until this week that was all we knew - then on Tuesday Facebook officially announced their plans to create a team dedicated to Blockchain technology.  The team is headed by none other than David Marcus, who is not only director of Facebook Messenger, but sits on the board of Coinbase.

So we know this for sure: a blockchain team has been created at Facebook - but we do not know it's purpose, yet.

It's important to remember - blockchain technology can be used to keep records of any kind of transaction or data - those of us in the cryptocurrency world just happen to use that tech to facilitate and store records of the transfer of virtual currencies.

Bridget van Kralingen, IBM’s senior vice president of global Industries, platforms and blockchain spoke to Fortune Magazine this week with a theory that Facebook could use blockchain tech to combat criticism of how they handle user data, saying:

"What they are grappling with is securing data, and making sure that if people want privacy or trackability of their data they can actually secure that—whether it’s on the ad side or the personal side. So I think it’s a technology that fits very well with some of the business model challenges that they’re actually facing, and I think they’re very right to take this very seriously.”

While it's just a theory, i'm leaning in this direction as well.

So why are people saying "Wow I heard Facebook is coming out with Facebook Coin!"? 

It started with this article on which claims they have anonymous sources within Facebook telling them “They are very serious" about starting a cryptocurrency.  Then, other sites felt this was enough to go off, and wrote their own articles speculating on an official Facebook coin.

Sure, maybe their secret insider actually exists - but as a resident of Silicon Valley myself, I have more friends working at Facebook than I can count (largely because it's quite a revolving door over there) - so, from my sources - one of them absolutely in a position to know - they have heard nothing about a Facebook coin coming.

Either way - I applaud Facebook for at least taking these first few steps to see how Blockchain could improve the service for everyone. It's exciting - but let's separate the facts from the speculation - whatever they're up to is still in it's very early phase.

There's a real a chance Facebook doesn't even know how Facebook is going to use Blockchain yet.

Author: Ross Davis
E-Mail: Twitter:@RossFM
San Francisco News Desk