New York Times unveils blockchain-based project to fight fake news

By Srivatsan K C

The New York Times (NYT) revealed a Blockchain based project to tackle the spread of misinformation and fake news in the media. The project named as ‘News Provenance Project’ and is based on Distribution Ledger Technology (DLT). It is currently in the initial phase and is being developed in collaboration with IBM’s startup focused arm, IBM Garage.

News organizations generally hold all the metadata related to any media that are being published, but the public rarely gets to see this. Also the media could be easily saved and edited online and this is not verifiable. NYT believes that it is crucial to build a trust in journalism with the menace of ultra realistic deep fakes and convincing misinformation growing.

Sasha Koren, the project lead asked about the presence of a meaningful way for the public to differentiate between misleading content and credible news. She explains in a blog post about the promise of using blockchain technology and the plan to begin by exploring hyperledger fabric.

The original plan is to use Blockchain as a store for metadata that describes the content. The metadata focuses mainly on the photos used in journalism. The immutability of DLT makes the data verifiable and whether the image was edited.

A private permissioned platform such as Hyperledger Fabric, the project welcomes many other news organizations also to be added as Nodes.

This initiative is not entirely new. Orange, France’s biggest telecom firm along with safe.press tried authenticating news using Blockchain earlier this year. EDF Energy, also from France, was the first to release a news authentication system back in 2017.