Facebook has suffered skepticism from both individuals and governments over the upcoming launch of its new cryptocurrency Libra. Unlike most cryptocoins such as Bitcoin or Ethereum that rely on a decentralized system of recording information, Facebook will maintain control over the regulation of Libra. Some see this as counterintuitive to the democratic spirit of cryptocurrencies. Add in the fact that Facebook has already been condemned for the way it has handled data in the past, and it would appear that the Libra has some work to do to make believers out of the global public.
Those critical of Facebook’s involvement in cryptocurrency are likewise wary of its recently announced Bounty program, which rewards users for finding bugs or security threats in its coding. It is asking the programming community to fool-proof the Libra before it goes live. Is this a way for Facebook to demonstrate its transparency, or a publicity stunt to attract more users?
What is the Bounty Program?
Launched on August 27th, 2019, the Libra Bug Bounty program opens up the Libra’s blockchain design for inspection by the worldwide community of users. Hosted on HackerOne, a well-known bug bounty program, Facebook will financially reward anyone who can identify security threats in its system. The most subtle threats will land the person who finds them $10,000, while lesser issues payout at $5,000, $1,500, or $500, according to the level of risk they pose.
To incentivize bug hunters, Facebook has temporarily allowed issues that they have already found in the code to remain there, ensuring that there is a guaranteed possibility of remuneration for those looking for it. The Bounty program is meant to sure up the Libra’s defenses against hackers once it goes live in 2020.
What Does Facebook Have to Gain From It?
Because Facebook will retain control over the Libra, some have criticized it for not being as transparent as other blockchains. The Libra Bug Bounty program is billed as “reflecting the Libra Association’s principles,” of which transparency and openness are two of the three values listed. By pulling back the curtain, the Bounty program is a gesture towards the cryptocurrency community in suggesting that it maintains the same social mores as other cryptocoins.
The third principle put forth by the Bounty program is “global access.” While that sounds like an honorable objective, some instead consider the program to be a handy promotional tool to help the Libra gain international acceptance as a currency. Allowing cryptocurrency users to forage through its code also encourages them to be familiar with the platform, increasing the likelihood that they will use it later. Getting the global programming network involved can have significant marketing benefits.
The response to Facebook’s Libra Bug Bounty program has been mixed, and it is yet to be seen if such actions will change the mind of government regulators once it launches in 2020. Some applaud the social media giant for finding a community-based approach for addressing some of its criticism, while others remain skeptical. Meanwhile, working out the bugs in Libra’s platform just might land you some vacation money.