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The New York Times Research & Development team is launching ‘The News Provenance Project’ to find a better way of providing people with a way to differentiate between fake and authentic content. In the center of this new initiative, which actually makes it possible, is blockchain technology.
The first goal of the project is focused on photojournalism as photos can be easily manipulated and shared widely on the social media. The project’s team is conducting a research to learn what happens when the audience is given better insight about the background information of a news photo published online.
The News Provenance Project also includes the building of ‘a proof-of-concept technical implementation’ based on the immutable reliability of blockchain technology. The project will be initiated by exploring permissioned and private blockchain framework Hyperledger Fabric.
Through this experimentation, The New York Times Company wants to provide the public with a way to determine the source and authenticity of the photo published on a blockchain. This exploration of blockchain applications for photojournalism can help find ways for it to be used for journalism as a whole. The NYT Company also wants to make sure that all of its learning from this experimentation is made public so that it may be of use for other original publishers and news outlets.
The problem of misinformation, fake news, false statements and manipulated or out of context content in the form of text, photos or videos published online is harming elections and politics around the world. News outlets continue to cover the factors that contribute to such misleading news and their consequences for society, politics, and technology. Many are now working on debunking false claims, which increase greatly during political campaign seasons.
Tackling Fake News with Blockchain
Many news organizations are now starting to realize that they need to find a solution to this problem. Though it is very hard to find a solution that can help newsreaders differentiate authentic content from the misleading one, there have been some strategies made to tackle this problem.
These strategies include the Washington Post’s visual explainer of a manipulated video and The Wall Street Journal’s special team to help its journalists identify misleading and fake content. Moreover, many others have agreed to study the issue to its core and provide with all the research needed such as several news-centric nonprofits including First Draft, consortiums like Misinfocon, the Credibility Coalition etc.
According to The New York Times, this blockchain project is being conducted in collaboration with the IBM Garage, which has done many blockchain-related projects in other industries. Now other organizations wishing to participate in this experimentation are also welcome to collaborate with The New York Times Company.