Opinion | How Blockchain Could Fix Facebook’s Fake News Problem

After the 2016 United States presidential election, Facebook started to receive flak for its possible role in Donald Trump’s victory. The usage of Facebook profiles for data analysis by Cambridge Analytica, the immense number of fake news articles on the site and the impact of confirmation bubbles meant that Facebook’s platform was being used to drastically misinform users about the world around them. Though Facebook has recently cracked down with their fake news problem, they still face many roadblocks.

Since Facebook operates as the largest community in the world, the company has an obligation to ensure information getting traction on their platform is accurate. With Mark Zuckerberg being called before Congress and the company coming under fire from legislators, Facebook needs to come up with some technical solutions that can help mitigate their fake news dilemma.

Blockchain technology offers Facebook a variety of ways to overcome information inaccuracy and tampering. Whether they develop a blockchain network to track individual node activity and verify information or integrate blockchain into incentive systems, the tech can help Facebook get back on the right track.

Identity Verification

One of the largest problems Facebook has been seeing is the rise of fake accounts and the usage of these accounts to do mass promotion. These accounts have been tied to the spread of fake news links through Facebook groups. While Facebook has already taken measures to utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence to spot and shut down fake accounts, integrating blockchain can boost these efforts.

With a blockchain network tracking identities on Facebook, individuals can have transparent assurance that their identity is not being stolen. Furthermore, Facebook will be better able to track and compare the actions of various accounts. If one bad actor is in charge of a variety of accounts, blockchain can spot and stop this activity faster than machine learning can.

Rewarding Content Creators

Steem launched as a blockchain-based social media network that rewarded content creators with financial incentives. This platform works similarly to Reddit and gives posters tokens based on the number of up and down votes they receive. Since posters are financially incentivized to minimize down votes and are rewarded for quality content, the social media network is able to sort out bad actors without external intervention.

Facebook could integrate a content-creation incentive system like this, where the highest quality content creators (influencers) are offered financial compensation for driving a large amount of positive engagement. On the flip side, the system would also track and purge content creators who cause the most problems and are frequently reported by the community. Overall, the system should help get more people adding quality content and reduce the amount of fake news and low-quality content.

Tracking Journalist Bias

RedPen is a project that will utilize blockchain technology to track journalists’ reputations and communicate that information to readers. The premise is that blockchain is able to analyze a person’s reputation and bias based on a set of data. The service can then offer insights about the reporter based on any particular bias they have. For instance, if a tech writer has written pro-Apple pieces in the past, that information will be communicated in his blurb when he does a review of the latest iPhone.

Facebook could utilize a similar approach of understanding what people are saying off of Facebook and treating that as a filter. For instance, if someone has a history of posting malicious or false information on a personal blog, that information should be communicated alongside anything they post on Facebook…

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