Recently New York Times (NYT) has admitted that they are successfully working on a project which is using blockchain technology in order to fight the ever-spreading fake news. NYT is using Hyperledger Fabric Permissioned blockchain. The project is called “The News Provenance Project” and it aims to explore new ways for publishers to help fight misinformation.
“Our initial work involves exploring a blockchain-based system for recording and sharing metadata about media — images and videos in particular — published by news organizations. We are also conducting user experience research to identify the types of signals that can aid users in recognizing authentic media,” reads the website.
On their website, they describe and answer all the questions that one might have. NYT will work on this project’s first phase throughout 2019. During this time, they are working on user-centered research. As they describe, the research will provide a proof of concept which will describe where, how un by whom the information was published. Thus proving the authenticity and provenance. Towards the end of the year, they will publish a report of their findings.
This is an incentive by the New York Times, and with the help of their research and development teams alongside with NYT journalists they claim that they want to share their findings publicly. New York Times says that they won’t be the core beneficiary from this project:
“Ultimately, though, it is the audiences for news who should benefit the most. If it doesn’t work for them, then it doesn’t work.”
So Why Would They Need Blockchain?
In their website, they describe that with the help of blockchain they can share information between entities in a way that digital files can maintain provenance:
“All hype aside, blockchain offers mechanisms for sharing information between entities in ways we think are essential for establishing and maintaining provenance of digital files. Specifically, data is stored to a blockchain is immutable (read: tamper-proof), and copies of the database can be held by multiple parties.”
As described above, they are using Hyperledger Fabric which is a permissioned, private, open-source blockchain framework. Additionally, they reveal that IBM Garage is also helping them with this project because they have executed similar in the past.
Ultimately, New York Times along with IBM Garage is working on a system (proof of concept) for storing and sharing digital files and contextual metadata about photo files in order to prove their authenticity. This means that the data will consist of such things as where the photo (or video) was taken, by whom, and all the information behind who, when, and were edited it.
Earlier this year, New York Times was looking for a Blockchain Exploration Lead job position. The job description said that they are looking for a “forward-looking leader who will help envision and design a blockchain-based proof of concept for news publishers”.
It looks like they have successfully filled the position as the project has embarked.