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New York Times Using Blockchain To Fight Fake News

by Syed Shoeb
New York Times Using Blockchain To Fight Fake News

Over the past decade, cryptocurrencies and the underlying technology has been used to solve problems in several industries. A growing number of blockchain-based organizations have been combating fake news, which is the result of the “attention economy.” Fake news has led to the commodification, falsification and, at times, plagiarism of content to draw eyeballs from search traffic. Combating fake news and deep fakes is one of modern journalism’s biggest challenges. The New York Times is planning to implement blockchain technology to fight this challenge.

The project is labeled “The News Provenance Project,” and NYT is working with IBM Garage (an incubator) and building a private and permissioned distributed database to try to prove the authenticity of images used in journalism using Hyperledger Fabric. The distributed database will help in sharing the data across all geographic locations. The news agency believes that the authenticity of images can be proven by publishing the originals to a blockchain network. This will create a form of a digital repository that could prove where an image comes from, and the subsequent edits after release. The NYT thinks that the blockchain-based system will prevent records from being changed/edited.

A blockchain solution is immutable and that will solve the problem of fake news. The technology is yet to be developed and the details of the same are still being discussed. NYT will work on this project for the rest of the year, alongside IBM will develop the blockchain with a technical Proof-of-Work concept. There have been other projects in the industry that have made claims to fix journalism and the problem of fake news. Forbes has attempted to stop bad actors from illegitimately using a verified content badge. The blockchain-powered Civil publishing platform is partnered with Forbes and uses its own token-staking mechanism to ensure that publishers on its platforms are vetted by existing partners.

Publiq, another platform is one step ahead and uses the concept of blockchain-powered distributed storage to provide independent journalists with a decentralized, tamper-proof place to publish their content by rewarding users who give up some of their free storage space. Publiq plans to use AI to target advertising by topic, and, importantly, to link to articles with “alternative opinions” in order to maximize the chances for readers to form their own opinions.

These platforms and providers are ultimately betting big on the wisdom of crowds—the idea that crowd-sourcing the truth can, in effect, beat authoritative centralized references. Over time, the plan is to migrate content delivery platforms to the blockchain to ensure the process is decentralized and validated by the people who use it.

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