People don’t read the news like they used to. Not in the sense that people don’t sit around reading the paper anymore (although that is indeed true).
The news industry has been seriously changed (or, as many say, damaged) by the way that media is presented and consumed these days. The news industry is losing at a game of catch-up with the internet; technology is evolving faster than the news has been able to keep up. The decline in newspaper subscriptions and other traditional sources of revenue that the news industry relied on for so many years has caused the industry to have to reinvent its sources of income – with mixed results.
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Additionally, controversy in the news industry around the 2016 US election has caused a wave of distrust in the industry. Studies conducted by Statista have revealed that “In light of the fake news scandal which overshadowed the 2016 Presidential Election and the early days of President Trump’s tenure, trust in the media both in the United States and worldwide has nosedived.”
There have been a number of technological and legal proposals to assuage this problem. Some of the strongest of these proposals have been put forth by blockchain firms – most recently, a platform called Civil has been making headlines. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey even said that the platform was looking to blockchain to combat the spread of fake news. But can blockchain technology really save the press?
RT Hyperledger “Twitter looks to blockchain as it fights to combat fake news and scams https://t.co/7oBgAW6UuG“
— Maciej Jedrzejczyk (@mjedrze) September 12, 2018
Therefore, “I believe it’s time for the media to be mapped and indexed as a global supply chain. Every article, every byline, every video, every editor — collecting, analyzing and indexing every important step of the media production process. This data, in turn, will be made available to all third parties who are working on the problem of false news and misinformation. (Yes, even Facebook is invited to layer data into their calculations.)”
Essentially, “building tools that will help news consumers make their own decisions about trustworthiness and media integrity is crucial.”
Such tools wouldn’t necessarily need to be blockchain-based. “Using blockchain technology to make this work? That’s actually the least interesting part of the story,” he added. “A supply chain platform that’s helping journalism save itself through data transparency at would be wildly important. I believe this is the absolute best use case for blockchain and media trust.”
Blockchain’s Capabilities for Verifying Identity and Content Authenticity Could Bring New Integrity
Alison McCauley, author of Unblocked: How Blockchains Will Change Your Business and CEO of Unblocked Future, echoed Koyen’s sentiments. “The same features used to track assets are the focus of startups looking to combat fake news,” she told Finance Magnates. Unblocked Future is a blockchain education and consultancy firm.
“Many of their approaches center on proven validation. There are two sides of validation: the contributor’s identity, and the content’s authenticity.”
In the case of contributor identity, “there are many emerging companies that are seeking to become a trusted third-party verifier and protector of identity. The user shares enough with the third party so that they can verify who they say they are.”
With regards to content authenticity, McCauley says that there are a number of different solutions. “Approaches include encrypting stories on the blockchain so they are more difficult to modify, verifying the authenticity of user generated content, or developing economic incentives and a transparent, auditable network to hold curators and the community accountable for the integrity of content.”
However, McCauley believes that this kind of a platform may not be the final solution to the problems that the news industry is facing. Rather, she told Finance Magnates that “this may be just the beginning of an arms race against fake news. There is a vast network of resources focused on generating and profiting from fake news today—and the rest of us haven’t had much of an arsenal to use in the battle.”
“Blockchains could make fake news more difficult to perpetuate, and less profitable. However, as AI, machine learning and the use of bots becomes more sophisticated, this will likely prove to be a long-term war.”