What is The News Provenance Project

Asia Blockchain Review

August 29, 2019

The modern world runs on information and if that’s spread on fake notions, even by some of the biggest news outlets, there is nothing we can trust.

The Fake News Problem

Masses have started discussing the fake news issue quite openly now. If you look at it, the false statement tends to spread more readily than the truth because it has a great deal of charm and ‘spiciness’. Unfortunately, politicians and their campaign managers happen to be the prime and biggest sources of spreading fake news.

One of the major reasons for the spread of such statements and pictures is social media. There are millions of daily users and they never bother confirming the news before sharing it with friends and the cycle continues.

 Use of Blockchain to Combat Fake News Problem

Since we are living in quite a democratic world, where everyone enjoys the freedom of speech, people cannot be barred from spreading fakes news. However, we could implement blockchain to combat this issue at a larger scale.

Here are two important use cases to note. Firstly, if user A proposes a news, it is vetted by several industry experts and if a certain number of people go against it, the system could be notified not to trust any future news from user A. Secondly, once the news is approved by the experts, we can put it on a public ledger and for every share on social media, an entry can be made in the blockchain. Therefore, all the readers can track the earliest known history (provenance) of any given news on the internet.

Since many publishers also base their written accounts on a variety of news that they come across on the internet, they can also take benefit of such solutions and ensure that the news they are planning to write holds some credibility.

Spotlight Project (The News Provenance Project by the New York Times)

In order to step up the game and make its news outlet more reliable, the NY Times has rolled its News Provenance Project. They have specifically targeted photojournalism since pictures carry the maximum probability to be manipulated and misinterpreted. It is kind of a test project where they plan to see what happens when the audience is given this liberty. If this turns out to be a success, we might see its implementation on a grand scale.

Coming back to the points – the idea behind this is quite futuristic and allows certain ‘signals’ to travel with the media wherever it is displayed on the internet. So, if a picture is uploaded on the New York Times and someone shares it on social media or forwards you through an email, claiming something about the NY Times, you would have the luxury to check its provenance in real-time.

This feature also comes in handy when we talk about group chats in WhatsApp where people attribute false news to a major news outlet, hence enticing violence.


Over the last 2-4 years, we have seen plenty of rational use cases delivered by a variety of companies in different industries. However, this latest initiative by the NY Times is quite a futuristic one and is expected to diminish the propagation of fake news with the help of blockchain technology.

Since they happen to be among the leaders of the industry, this project might create momentum and stir the creation of several other use cases to counter fake news.

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Asia Blockchain Review

Gateway to Blockchain in Asia

Asia Blockchain Review is the largest initiative for media and community building in Asia for blockchain technology. We aim to connect all blockchain enthusiasts on a regional scale and facilitate the technological foundation of blockchain through a range of group discussions, technical workshops, conferences, and consulting programs.

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