The phenomenon of fake news has become increasingly widespread in recent years, both in terms of the quantity produced and in terms of the socio-economic consequences that its diffusion – especially when it is artfully constructed – succeeds in producing and perhaps blockchain technology might help in combating them.
The use of blockchain cannot prevent fake news from being created and spread extensively, however, it is possible to try to contain the spread of non-certified media or at least add elements of greater certainty about the origin of a piece of news and the authoritativeness of its sources, activating innovative ways to reward those who declare the sources of their articles and penalize those who reproduce non-certified news.
Interoperability is an Italian startup that aims to introduce the use of the blockchain in some important areas such as the food chain and decentralized governance of organizations: using the DeeCert protocol, they have developed a Proof of Concept to address the issue in an innovative way.
The proposed system is based on two elements: on the one hand, it creates a system to record news within non-fungible tokens, on the other hand, it aims to encourage the virtuous behaviour of the various actors through a gamification platform.
The contents of the news are sent to a decentralized storage network (IPFS, SWARM, StorJ, Filecoin) and processed by an algorithm that returns a unique hash. This hash is inserted in the token, together with other important metadata such as the biometric signature of the author, the place where a photo was taken, the newspaper on which the news was published and potential copyrights.
Tokenizing articles against fake news
The token can be checked through a special explorer and can be transferred between people – for example in the case of content subject to copyright.
The ability to tokenize news and all the important information relevant to it is a first step to publish the news in the infinite sea of information we are flooded with, and make it an identifiable, defined item with its own life, with a clear origin and an authoritativeness that can finally become objective.
At this point, it is necessary to reach a higher level to connect with the world of those who create, relaunch, comment, translate, re-elaborate the news and in essence produce its universal diffusion.
These actions are no less important because it is true that news can be fake or corrupt at the origin, but it only does damage when it reaches a large audience and often the virality with which it spreads is directly proportional to how striking it seems.
It is therefore necessary to address the subjective aspect, trying to reward virtuous behaviours and penalize incorrect ones through a system that considers:
- The good actions and therefore deserving of reward: signing a news item, quoting the source in case of derived use, not distorting its content, and so on.
- The bad ones that lead to the application of penalties.
- The mediated object of the rewarding activity: let’s call them credits.
- The true purpose of the accumulation of credits: the rating of the participant.
- A platform to automatically manage actions and rewards.
Participants are authors, journalists, translators, publishers, photographers and all categories of people who can handle an online and offline media in any way: for them, earning credits means acquiring a level of authority that ultimately leads to self-reliance.
The mechanism does not exclude readers, as they are given equally important tasks: expressing appreciation and reporting any content that is not in line with reality, in order to improve the experience of other users and encourage creators/propagators to become increasingly better.