Fake news is not only misleading, it also represents the foundation for a wide range of consequences, from simple friendly jabs and pranks to complicated full-blown international crisis and sometimes even wars.
The issue of fake news has become a solid topic for discussion especially in today’s world where the speed at which information is spread has become unprecedented. Cutting across political opponents, sports rivals and even among celebrities, the subject of fake news and propaganda under different motives has increased in prominence.
Riding on social media
The limited regulation of social media has indeed enabled an exponential growth of the rate at which all manner of information spreads across the globe, including fake news. Motivated by both tangible and intangible rewards, the spread of fake news and propaganda has been facilitated in a number of ways that make them spread very quickly.
In 2017, during the political rift between Qatar and a couple of other nations in the Middle East, Twitter was fingered as a medium through which manipulative information was distributed. Other social media platforms have also been noted to have been used extensively during the 2016 US Elections, and the Brexit Campaign.
While social media platforms are called out for being exploited based on regulation gaps, the more stringent mainstream media hasn’t gone without indictment either. In May 2018, American President, Donald Trump threatened to remove new networks’ press credentials over negative coverage, suggesting that recent negative comments about his presidency were “fake” news.
“The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”
Taking a different approach
Political will and legislation have battled without much success in curbing the menace of fake news and propaganda. However, blockchain systems today promise decentralized and democratic procedures that will not only vet the news industry, but also reward participants for authenticity and professionalism.
With popular question-and-answer platform Ask.fm implementing blockchain technology by using smart contracts, the news industry will become democratized. The platform will allow the community to determine the best sources of information fairly and independently, and in turn to reward users accordingly. In this case, whenever the conditions of a questioner are fulfilled by a responder, smart contracts will release payment in the form of the platform’s ASK Tokens (known as ‘ASKT’).
This system will improve the reliability of the ecosystem, ensuring that high-value content is rewarded and rises to the top, where it can be viewed by more members of the community. As a result, rather than trying to enforce the taskmaster approach that is powered by threats and sanctions as illustrated above, blockchain changes the narrative. Going forward, community members will be motivated by rewards and also uphold the responsibility of cleaning up the industry.
Power to the people
The consistency introduced by blockchain as a transparent, auditable and immutable technology will encourage content creators to become more responsible, knowing that they must own their news. Rating also remains a motivating factor that will encourage discipline among such content creators, while members of the community will be offered the opportunity to benefit from the revolutionary internet of value.
Though unserious in appearance, the consequences of fake news are miles beyond the direct attention that it has received. Some of these consequences have already been mentioned above. The existing internet structure does not provide effective measures of tackling this perennial problem. Rather than taking the erstwhile futile authoritative approach, it is high time the problem is tackled holistically by involving the actual news consumers. This is the essence of blockchain and the power of democracy.