Following the digital revolution trajectory we live in exciting times. Lines between industries are blurring and well above 50% of executives know their main competitors in 5 years it’s going to be a different company. We shifted form a sustained advantage model to a transient advantage model in which continuous Innovation is going to be the only way for companies to stay relevant and exist.
In this context, widely due to the endemic distribution of digital technologies empowering every aspect of our life, the role of technology and the ability of clearly understanding it is going to be fundamental to progress as organisations and society.
I believe the most promising and (literally) transformational technology ahead is Blockchain.
What is blockchain
Far from being purely the enabling technology of cryptocurrency Blockchain is a transformational technology (as it was TCP/IP before it) and it has the potential to create new foundations for our economic and social systems.
Blockchain is going to be nothing short than the second generation of internet. If TCP/IP was the foundation for the first one, a p2p network technology for the exchange of information, Blockchain—a peer-to-peer network that sits on top of the internet—was introduced in October 2008 as part of a proposal for bitcoin, a virtual currency system that eschewed a central authority for issuing currency, transferring ownership, and confirming transactions. Bitcoin is the first application of blockchain technology.
With blockchain, we can imagine a world in which contracts are embedded in digital code and stored in transparent, shared databases, where they are protected from deletion, tampering, and revision. In this world every agreement, every process, every task, and every payment would have a digital record and signature that could be identified, validated, stored, and shared.
Intermediaries like lawyers, brokers, and bankers might no longer be necessary. Individuals, organizations, machines, and algorithms would freely transact and interact with one another with little friction. Blockchain will enable a world aiming to prosperity and no longer to profit. This is the immense potential of blockchain.
The Fake news problem
After Brexit, the 2016 United States presidential election, and the far right nationalism wave that seems to be ubiquitous and growing stronger, Facebook started to receive flak for its possible role in Donald Trump’s victory and generally in spreading false and biased informations and hate messages across the globe. The usage of Facebook profiles for data analysis by Cambridge Analytica, the immense number of fake news articles on the site and the impact of confirmation bubbles meant that Facebook’s platform was being used to drastically misinform users about the world around them. Though Facebook has recently cracked down with their fake news problem, they still face many roadblocks.
Since Facebook operates as the largest community in the world, the company has an obligation to ensure information getting traction on their platform is accurate. With Mark Zuckerberg being called before Congress and the company coming under fire from legislators, Facebook needs to come up with some technical solutions that can help mitigate their fake news dilemma.
I am particularly interested, at the moment, in what companies like CCN are doing, or even other non blockchain based startup like Factmata: trying to ensure ways to overcome information inaccuracy and tampering, the so called and infamous fake news that have been causing so many socio economical problems in the last years.
I believe this topic is becoming increasingly important in today's society as information and education are two of the most important assets to help our society evolve to a more prosperous stage.
On the other hand ignorance and misinformation are risking to bring society backward generating violence and hate and that the only way we have to progress as society is through education and demystification.
Blockchain technology offers Facebook, and the world really, a variety of ways to overcome information inaccuracy and tampering. Whether they develop a blockchain network to track individual node activity and verify information or integrate blockchain into incentive systems, the tech can help Facebook get back on the right track.
One of the largest problems Facebook has been seeing is the rise of fake accounts and the usage of these accounts to do mass promotion. These accounts have been tied to the spread of fake news links through Facebook groups. While Facebook has already taken measures to utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence to spot and shut down fake accounts, integrating blockchain can boost these efforts.
With a blockchain network tracking identities on Facebook, individuals can have transparent assurance that their identity is not being stolen. Furthermore, Facebook will be better able to track and compare the actions of various accounts.
Rewarding Content Creators
Steem launched as a blockchain-based social media network that rewarded content creators with financial incentives. This platform works similarly to Reddit and gives posters tokens based on the number of up and down votes they receive. Since posters are financially incentivized to minimize down votes and are rewarded for quality content, the social media network is able to sort out bad actors without external intervention.
Facebook could integrate a content-creation incentive system like this, where the highest quality content creators (influencers) are offered financial compensation for driving a large amount of positive engagement.
Tracking Journalist Bias
RedPen is a project that will utilize blockchain technology to track journalists’ reputations and communicate that information to readers. The premise is that blockchain is able to analyze a person’s reputation and bias based on a set of data. The service can then offer insights about the reporter based on any particular bias they have. Facebook could utilize a similar approach of understanding what people are saying off of Facebook and treating that as a filter. For instance, if someone has a history of posting malicious or false information on a personal blog, that information should be communicated alongside anything they post on Facebook.
Using Crowd Verification
Trive is a social science global consensus engine that researches and clarifies facts and empowers users through cryptocurrency to discover truth through wisdom of the crowd. Combined with game theory, Trive will enable people around the world to research, verify and score the truth of almost any piece of information.
Crowdsourced content verification acts as a normal spam filter on Facebook currently. It makes sense that sepcialize providers would be beneficial in helping monitor content as well as create an ecosystem that rewards people’s time and effort.
Analyzing Publication Bias
Facebook can work with major publication and content hubs to track the consumer sentiment on their articles and on Facebook to identify the quality of their publication’s content and any potential biases. Blockchain has the ability to crowdsource data and incentivize people to adjust their actions.
With blockchain, Facebook stands a chance of combating fake news and helping create a more helpful environment for their users. There are a number of different approaches they can implement, each offering a different set of product functionality. At least one of these solutions should be used to help track and stop bad actors in the Facebook network.