Researchers Develop Possible Solution to Disinformation

Researchers Develop Possible Solution to Disinformation

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Researchers from the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering are developing a first-of-its-kind innovative system against fake news that relies on blockchain. Their goal? A world where people have greater trust in the news they see and hear.

It is already known that disinformation – especially digitally created – poses a great threat to democracy. There is evidence fake news could have influenced important world events like Brexit, the 2016 US elections, the Russia-Ukraine war, etc. Big tech companies like Facebook and Google have been trying to establish policies to prevent the spread of disinformation on their platforms, with limited success.

A team of Waterloo researchers hopes to do better. Chien-Chih Chen, one of the project’s lead researchers, explains that the system he and his colleagues have developed over the past three years consists of three main components.

According to Techxplore, Chen explains that the system begins with the publication of a news article on a decentralized platform based on blockchain technology, which provides a transparent, immutable record of all transactions related to news articles- making it extremely difficult for users to manipulate or tamper with information.

The second stage is human intelligence in the form of a quorum of validators, who are incentivized with rewards or penalties to assess the validity of the news story they’re reviewing. The quorum would be a subset of the larger community of users on the platform, with quorum members chosen at random from people interested in validating news stories or from those with a proven reputation for authenticating news. The users would verify news stories based on their own knowledge and sources, then state their opinion on whether or not the article is accurate.

The question is, of course, how much could we trust the quorum of human validators? Chen and his fellow researchers have created an entropy-based incentive mechanism to answer this question. The quorum’s collective opinion would be used to establish a consensus on the accuracy of the article, which would then be either validated or flagged as fake news.

The researchers are currently working with an early prototype, and while initial test results are promising, the system is still in the development stage and needs a significant effort to make it usable. Chen concluded by stating: “We are confident our system has the potential to be applied in practical situations within the next few years. We believe it can provide a robust solution to fake news. I hope my research can impact the world to make a positive difference.”