New York Times Confirms It's Using Blockchain to Combat Fake News

The New York Times is testing blockchain solutions to authenticate news photos in partnership with IBM Garage.

Jul 24, 2019 at 1:55 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:13 a.m. UTC

The New York Times Company has revealed new details relating to its ongoing blockchain publishing experiments first revealed by CoinDesk in March.

Published Tuesday, a new website for the publisher's News Provenance Project explains how the storied newspaper's Research and Development team plans to use Hyperledger Fabric’s permissioned blockchain to authenticate news photographs in partnership with IBM Garage, the tech giant's accelerator program.

The project aims to combat misinformation and adulterated media, which it argues harms small and large publishers alike. "News consumers [who] are deceived and confused...eventually become fatigued and apathetic to news," the website says.

The New York Times and partner companies will run a proof-of-concept from July until late 2019 to find a way to maintain trust in digital files. The project aims to store a news item’s “contextual metadata” on a blockchain, including when and where a photo or video was shot, who took it and information regarding how it was edited and published.

The idea is to create a “set of signals that can travel with published media anywhere that material is displayed," the website says, including on social media, in group chats and in search results.

The Times plans to publish updates on the project throughout the process, culminating in a full report following the pilot's conclusion.

Additional confirmation came via a tweet from Civil Media CEO Vivian Schiller, who was formerly with the New York Times, and a lengthy Medium post from Sasha Koren, the program's project lead.

CoinDesk reported in March that the Times was getting ready to experiment with blockchain technology when the company posted – then quickly removed – a want ad for a project leader.

New York Times photo via Shutterstock


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