The New York Times is testing a blockchain to combat fake news

The new York Times, as part of a joint project with IBM News Provenance, is testing a blockchain to combat fake news.

The New York Times is investigating whether blockchain can help restore trust in online media. As part of the News Provenance project, created in collaboration with IBM, the publication wants to increase readers ‘ confidence in news photos that are stored in the blockchain.

To do this, a prototype of an artificial social network was created, with which the team tracked the status of the photo from the moment it was taken and published, until it was edited. In addition, any captions accompanying the photo were tracked.

Thanks to the blockchain, all changes were registered and available for study, and smart contracts ensured that only certain people could access the photo’s metadata. Project Manager Pooja Reddy shared information about the project at the end of last week.

She noted that additional information about the photo helped readers better understand the origin of the image through the context provided, but there are serious obstacles to implementing something like this on a larger scale.

One of the problems is the requirement that the project checks content published by other media outlets. Another problem is matching online photos with blockchain originals, although technologies such as automatic video analysis or perceptual hashing can help.

In addition, the prototype system required significant financial and technical costs, and small news organizations may not be able to bear such costs. In the end, such a system can only be successful with the large-scale participation of a large number of media outlets. Reddy said that her team is working to increase the interest of industry participants and support this and other related projects:

“This prototype was an experiment that told us a lot about the power of reliable contextual information in social media channels. However, to implement something like this, there is a long way to go. However, there are great opportunities to use the blockchain to combat fake news.

This is not the first time that major media outlets are exploring the possibilities of blockchain. Back in 2018, the American magazine Forbes announced a collaboration with the blockchain startup Civil to publish its content in a decentralized network. However, recently, the startup Civil, which aimed to create a decentralized platform for media funding and publishing materials, announced its closure after four years of operation.