In this ever-growing digital world, fake news has become an every-day challenge for journalism. One possible solution to this problem could be found in the blockchain technology.  

The blockchain, as we know it now, has been exclusively present in the world of cryptocurrencies. But its feature of the decentralized distribution of information could eventually be applied in journalism, as a method for determining whether a source of information is trustworthy or merely fake news.


Journalism’s current challenges

There are tons of reasons for the creation of fake news. Politics, for example, has since its beginning excelled through propaganda.

Nowadays, we have to face an even more significant challenge with the surge of a combination of Deep Learning and Fakes, also known as “Deepfakes.”

By applying technologies such as AI to propaganda, it’s nearly impossible to separate facts from untruths even for the most cautious of readers.

This is further aggravated by the fact that basically anyone can become a source of information due to the advancement and simplification of publication and distribution tools. 

Whereas consumption of information through TV, newspapers, and radio continues on a decline, mainstream journalism is looked upon to counter fake news.

The mainstay for verification has been relying on trusted news outlets to authenticate information.

Unfortunately, growing technology enables malicious doctoring of information from legitimate sites to shape narratives and opinions.

By changing a few words from a news channel, for instance, one could create a whole different angle of a news item while still claiming that the same originates from that news channel. It thus implies that the art of faking news is way ahead of the measures put in place to counter it. 


How the Blockchain can counter fake news

Blockchain technology may as well be synonymous with every cryptographic attempt to apply decentralization and transparency to eliminate trust issues.

It has been the most touted next-generation technology since 2017, and while it is yet to prove the hype, its inherent capabilities remain a technological powerhouse.

Journalism is not left behind in exploring this new technology, and it is believed that the blockchain can be applied in journalism to counter fake news

Fake news does well through the aid of tech. Talk of photoshop, an editing tool that is used to ruin lives even in the hands of amateurs. An image can be manipulated over and over again till the point that it becomes nearly impossible to identify the original image.

Blockchain could offer solutions in such cases by keeping original copies on immutable ledgers. Data entered on the blockchain form the basis of building on a given subject through a mathematical computation result known as a hash. A hash attached to a given data will be replicated every time the same is uploaded again. Any alteration will be invalid or break the chain, thus pointing at interference. 

Decentralization is a crucial blockchain feature that could also counter fake news and  ‘deepfakes’ by allowing unbiased participation within communities.

On traditional systems, content producers veto comments on their contents. Critiques are often pushed down the list, while favorable comments take precedence. In this case, the public is swayed by what the creator wants to be seen.

Blockchain ensures that every person has a say, and if negative reviews rank higher, they cannot be subjected to creator preference.


Other ways to counter fake news

A more sophisticated approach to decentralization as adopted by Civil is creating a ‘journalistic marketplace’ where participants put up stakes to challenge fake press. 

Since blockchain underpins digital assets, actors within the community own tokens that they put up to dispute a news item. When there are prospects of loss for false flags, the program keeps at bay falsified disputes. Further, by linking journalists and consumers directly, influence from outside factors such as advertisers, political, and individual actors is cut off. This model monetizes the press to facilitate free press in ways not seen before.   

While it is essential that the public actively looks to counter fake news, it is more practical than they are enabled to do so. As we have seen, the blockchain can be applied in journalism to counter fake news. After all, in the face of tech manipulations, including bots, trolls, and slow fact-checking sites, the solution to mitigating the effects of false information lies in the ability to confirm authenticity instantaneously. Blockchain capability ranks at the top of this.