New York Times Shares Results from Blockchain Project to Curb Fake News and Misinformation
Major American daily, theNew York Times, in association with IBM, recently piloted a blockchain-powered prototype to tackle the widespread fake news and misinformation broadcasting in today’s media space.
Utilizing Blockchain to Separate Facts from Fiction
Easy access to the Internet has virtually reduced the physical distance between people. On the other side, nevertheless, the virtual proximity facilitated by the Internet has led to an unprecedented rise in the spread of misinformation that is regularly eroding public trust from online media. To control this menace, the New York Timesand IBM – through their jointly developed blockchain project named the News Provenance Project – currently concluded a pilot that traced the journey of a photograph over various publications.
The team built a prototype of a makeshift social network that traced the status of a photograph from the time it was posted on the platform until the time it underwent substantial edits and changes in captions. As anticipated, all changes made to the photograph were properly recorded and logged into a secure, immutable database that could be obtained by the observers at any given time. Moreover, the prototype also leveraged smart contracts to assure that only a specific group of people had access to the photograph’s metadata.
A Mixed Bag of Results
Pooja Reddy, Product Manager, New York Times,was held for the blockchain prototype project. Reddy currently said in a statement that the prototype did certainly help readers better understand the origin of news photos by the given context. She, nevertheless, also acknowledged various bottlenecks that could limit large-scale adoption of such a mechanism.
According to Reddy, the necessity to have member publications review and support content shared by other media outlets could prove to be a Herculean task for the affected entities. Reddy added that matching the circulating photos with the original ones on the blockchain was another restriction that was recognized during the pilot. She emphasized the requirement for rising technologies like perceptual hashing and computer vision that could assist overcome the challenge.
Subsequently, Reddy recognized cost as a significant factor that could discourage smaller news organizations from welcoming such a prototype project. She said in a statement, “This prototype was an experiment that taught us a lot about the power of credible, contextual information in social media feeds, but there is a long way to go before something like this can be fully realized.” She added, “Nevertheless, there is a large opportunity for using blockchain to help fight against misinformation in news photos.”
The utilization of blockchain technology in journalism space is not an especially new idea. The challenge rests in developing a blockchain-enabled product or service that allows media firms to curb the spread of widespread misinformation and is cost-efficient to democratize an industry that is getting increasingly centralized.