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The Associated Press to use blockchain to fight fake election news

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Today blockchain firm Everipedia announced its collaboration with news agency The Associated Press (AP) and Chainlink, a decentralized oracle network. The project will enable AP to distribute U.S. election race calls onto a blockchain securely and transparently. And in turn, the blockchain can be used to verify the data is legitimate.

Nowadays, news misinformation is commonplace, with major technology companies like Facebook and Twitter attempting to address the issue to little avail.

In terms of blockchain use cases, the ability to verify that data is accurate and has not been manipulated seems like a pretty valid one. Especially since the Associated Press has a long track record of covering the U.S. elections since 1848 at both local and national levels.

How it works

The Associated Press uses a large number of stringers to call in local election data – the race calls.

Meanwhile, the whole point of blockchains is they are relatively secure because numerous nodes validate transactions. But how can you ensure the data is valid? The answer is to cryptographically sign the data to confirm it originates from the right person. 

That’s still not a 100% guarantee that the resulting news will be accurate because someone could hack the AP’s core systems, or the keys used to sign the data could get stolen. But barring that, it’s significantly more reliable than someone just emailing the calls.

At a technical level, blockchain smart contracts are designed to be relatively insular for security reasons. So they use oracles to communicate with the outside world, often to get price feeds, weather data, or in this case, the news. Chainlink is a popular provider of secure oracles for public blockchains. It connects to conventional APIs and feeds the data to multiple public blockchains in a secure manner. One of the biggest services it provides is ensuring the API doesn’t stop feeding data to the blockchain. Hence Chainlink is being used for the AP oracle.

This isn’t the first attempt to use blockchain in the news world. Last year, the New York Times launched its blockchain-based News Provenance Project to tackle misinformation, using distributed ledger technology (DLT) to verify the media source and potential edits. It recently announced it built a blockchain prototype for the project.

Europe has also started looking to blockchain to stop fake news. Earlier this year, Italian news agency ANSA announced it developed a blockchain system for tracking news in partnership with EY. The solution allows readers to check the origin of the news on ANSA’s own site, its affiliated publications, and articles published elsewhere such as social media.