Could Blockchain Technology Stop the Spread of Fake News?

While charges of direct Russian meddling and worries about insecure voting machines dominated headlines in the wake of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, an even bigger threat was brewing under the surface. And unlike hacked voting machines and nefarious foreign actors, this threat is far harder to pinpoint, and even more difficult to combat.

That problem is fake news, the deliberate spreading of false narratives designed to change voter attitudes, derail candidates and call the results of the election into question. The epidemic of fake news is a serious one, and experts agree that it may have played a big role in the outcome of the last Presidential election.

From false reports of the Pope endorsing then-candidate Donald Trump to charges that Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring, these news stories may have been outlandish, but they were also highly cited and widely spread. Now the social media companies that had a hand in spreading this disinformation are taking notice – and taking aim at future fake news stories.

Those social media companies and technology firms are getting help from an unlikely source – namely the blockchain. The same emerging technology that underlies popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum is being used to combat the scourge of fake news. If these efforts are effective at curtailing the spread of fake news, future elections could be far more secure, and ordinary citizens could have far more confidence in what they read, watch and listen to.

So how is blockchain technology changing the face of the news media, and how is the system that makes cryptocurrencies possible being used to stop fake news sources in their tracks? Social media companies are using a number of tactics to identify and halt fake news, and it will likely take a multifaceted approach to achieve victory over this nefarious threat. Here are a few of the ways blockchain technology is being harnessed to fight the threat of fake news.

A number of startups are already lining up to fight the scourge of fake news, and they are using various methods to achieve their goals. Some anti-fake news entrepreneurs envision a world where consumers could screen their newsfeeds by automatically blocking stories from news sources. Others foresee downloadable apps that would prevent fake news stories from spreading far and wide.

Still, others are looking at how blockchain technology, and its indelible ledger, could record the source of all news stories, making the identification and prosecution of deliberate misinformation far easier for governments around the world. The various methods used to combat the spread of fake news is a testament to the difficulty of the problem, but thanks to the blockchain, technology companies could finally be gaining the upper hand.

Voters have the right to accurate information about the candidates they vote for, and blockchain technology could provide greater transparency and increased confidence for future elections. If things go as planned, the next U.S. Presidential election could be far less contentious, and far less prone to meddling, than the last one.