New York Times Using Blockchain To Fight ‘Fake News’

New York Times Group blockchain fake news Hyperledger Fabric

The New York Times has confirmed it is using blockchain to take on fake news, following reported experiments with the technology earlier in the year.

A new website set up by the New York Times Group for their News Provenance Project was published earlier this week, with details of how the media outlet plans to rely on Hyperledger’s Fabric.

Fabric’s permissioned blockchain will be used to authenticate photographs, as part of a partnership set up with IBM Garage, the tech giant’s accelerator program for blockchain technologies.

According to the New York Times, the project is part of a bid to tackle fake and adulterated news, photographs and other media, which it says harms news publishers of all sizes.

“News consumers (who) are deceived and confused … eventually become fatigued and apathetic to news.”

A proof of concept is scheduled to run from this month over the rest of the year, with a view to finding ways of maintaining and verifying trust in digital files and other media sources.

The project will look at storing what has been described as “contextual metadata” on the blockchain, which can then be automatically verified to establish more information about the files in question.

This could include information such as when a photograph was taken, the location in which it was taken, and the identity of who created the image and where it was first published.

According to the website, the project is aiming to create a “set of signals that can travel with published media anywhere that material is displayed.”

The New York Times has said it will publish ongoing updates throughout the proof of concept phase, with a full report expected to coincide with the end of the pilot program.

The project highlights another use case for blockchain technology beyond cryptocurrency and payments, and chimes with projects in other industries where blockchain has been used to track origins and provenance.

The food and drink industry in particular is already making use of blockchain for tracking the origins of organic produce, coffee beans and milk, among others, with several large European supermarkets and global coffee shop chains using the technology.

Similar systems have also been implemented in the jewelry trade for tracking the origins of precious stones.

With the New York Times project, news media are set to follow the same path, relying on blockchain technology to establish and verify the authenticity of media and data files.