Experiment: New York Times validates photos using blockchain

Development team to fight misinformation in the internet
The New York Times development team has tried various ways to deal with misinformation on the Internet. This also includes the “The News Provenance Project”, which relies on blockchain technology. The main focus of the project is how readers rate photos published online.

Making context visible
A blockchain-based prototype makes context information about photos visible in a simulated social media feed. In addition to the picture, readers also receive additional information such as the name of the photographer and the location of the picture. The project examines whether users can better assess the credibility of photos in the news environment based on the expanded context.

How it works at a glance
The idea behind the process is to capture all information and metadata about a photo on the blockchain – from its creation to its publication. The time and author of changes are recorded transparently, tamper-proof and separate from the actual image file. In this way it is always clear where, how and when the photo was manipulated. In addition, the origin is clearly documented. The system is based on the IBM Blockchain Platform, additional support was provided by a development team from IBM Garage. Both a network and a data model were created for the test system in order to reliably map both authorizations and the necessary information.