The Future of Data Integrity

Challenge Disinformation – Social Media

September 08, 2020

Disinformation in Social Media

Last week we followed the trail to the origin to find a way to combat disinformation. After defining the origin and its importance to data integrity we explored how to find this ‘source of truth’. This week we will go through one of the most important and contemporary environments used to spread disinformation: Social Media.

With social media, the sharing of content and ideas has become increasingly easy and prevalent. This has had great impacts on the sharing of information and data across the world. In today’s world, it is much easier to share and attain information but also much easier to share and attain disinformation. The difficulty comes when the recipient tries to distinguish between relevant information and misleading disinformation.
When sharing data and statements the sharing party would want to share only verifiable data and to safeguard themselves from being misinterpreted or taken out of context. They would want to anchor their commentary with its context (full comment and source) to the mathematical source of truth.
On twitter one may share a research article with personal commentary and anchor that tweet to the source of truth. If the article itself is also verifiable when investigating, the tweet can be verified to not share manipulated information. By making your commentary or edits verifiable it becomes obvious if someone misrepresents them. It would also distinguish it as definitively separate from the original. In the case of disputes, having mathematical proof of state auditable would quench disputes about the order and of editing and origin of data.

Original content creators, researchers, artists, photographers, bloggers, investigative journalists, and others should anchor their ‘content prime’ to a secure source of truth. This can be achieved by immutably storing the original data hash to a distributed ledger, like blockchain. From this, it is possible to create and a shareable digital proof that can be attached to the original data when it is being shared. Such a solution could be introduced as an application on your device connected to your camera and text app or an extension to programs like photoshop enabling you to seal the origin. The digital proof is able to verify the origin when shared by its creator. Platforms like YouTube and messaging platforms like Twitter can attach a new function for users to safeguard their content.

This makes any form of disingenuous editing apparent. Misleading comments may also be exposed as such if the data, although verifiable, doesn’t reflect the statement. Also, it can be assumed that disingenuous statements are less likely to be anchored and verifiable as they are often made to intentionally obfuscate correct information. Again, having the correct data attached would be counterproductive for spreading disinformation.

Next week we will continue to examine the issue and go in-depth into the most disputed environment: social media. If you can’t wait you can download the entire paper here.