Take our survey for a chance to win $50 Take our survey for a chance to win $50

How Blockchain Could Improve Social Media Part 2

Attribution of Content. Absence of the Fake News Problem.

 

Attribution of content to its creators

One of the problems that Satoshi Nakamoto was able to solve with Bitcoin blockchain was the problem of double-spending of digital money. This problem is very similar to what happens with content on social networks.

Double spending is when a user sends funds to several parties simultaneously and neither the network nor the parties are able to tell that this is happening. Each party on the receiving end thinks that it is the only party to receive the funds. On the bitcoin blockchain, sending the same money to several parties at a time is impossible because of how the network processes transactions and adds coins to circulation. Anyone at any time can see a log of all the transactions on the Bitcoin network. For example, you can visit the official Bitcoin blockchain explorer at https://blockchain.info/ as you are reading this and see information about any and all of the transactions that have happened on the network since 2009, including all kinds of charts and stats about the transactions. To see information about transactions, simply click on one of the recent blocks on top of page in the “height” column or enter any number that is smaller than the latest height number to see the page for that block. Here is, for example, the page for block #234566: https://blockchain.info/block/000000000000005ff5a4bb25e6ce3480adff7919c2bc0255d887168e438bf787.You can see that the block had 248 transactions, that the volume of transactions was 786 bitcoins and if you start scrolling down the page, you will see the information about each of these 248 transactions. All kinds of charts about the Bitcoin network are located here: https://blockchain.info/charts

Also, on the bitcoin network anyone can also see the exact number of coins currently in circulation on the Bitcoin network. You can see the exact number of bitcoins in circulation as you are reading this, by visiting http://www.bitcoinblockhalf.com/

What does all of this have to do with social media? Simple! Bitcoin is a financial application of blockchain technology. The technology could work in the same way with content that it works with bitcoins. Instead of a network adding coins to circulation, the users on the network could be adding content to the network. Because the records on a blockchain are immutable, the network would have a record of who added content and when and it would be impossible to change this record. This would solve the current attribution problem in which it often becomes almost impossible to track who has created the content. On a blockchain network, anyone would be able to see who created the content in the same way you can see right now how many bitcoins the Bitcoin network has in circulation.

 

Absence of Fake News

The term “fake news” has existed for many years and has a lot of meanings. For example, in the 1990s and 2000s, in the United States the team was mostly used to describe comedy TV Shows such as The Daily Show with Jon Steward and The Soup with Joel McHale. This has changed during the 2016 Presidential Election cycle, when people had all kinds of information coming from the Internet, including made-up stories on social networks. Paul Horner was a writer behind many of the stories. In an interview to the Washington Post, Horner said that the goal of his stories was to convince people not to vote for Trump. However, his fake news articles often appeared in the top results of Google and other search engines. Many campaign representatives and TV channels were sharing his news as if they were true.

According to a study by Buzzfeed, during the last three months of the 2016 Presidential campaign, fake news generated more engagement on social media than the true news stories from all the legitimate media outlets combined. (Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-election-facebook-fake-news-creator-paul-horner-claims-responsibility/ ). Platforms such as Facebook and Google have been trying to fix the issue by relying on fact-checkers, by asking their users to report fake news and by updating their content policies. All these solutions are not perfect because they are based on figuring out how to use third parties to fact-check the news. On a blockchain network, such a problem would not exist because it would be possible to track the origin of the news and create smart contracts that would penalize the creators of fake news.