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Blockchain technology presents an exciting opportunity for combating fake news

Listening Without Prejudice: Using Blockchain Techology to Counter Propaganda in a ‘Fake News’ Era

April 2020, Number 10.02

“Joseph Goebbels, the Reich minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, is credited by many authors as the father of modern-day propaganda. The 1950 article, Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda, has 19 principles he used to conduct propaganda campaigns, according to the article’s author, Yale psychology Professor Leonard Doob. These principles are still widely used, albeit through a more pervasive medium — the internet — and have led to a “fake news” crisis. It is difficult to attribute the term fake news to a specific person or organization because it quickly evolved in meaning and context and wasn’t used much before the 2016 United States presidential election. At least 100 fake news websites that were reporting false stories about the U.S. election were discovered to have been registered in Veles, North Macedonia, according to the BBC. People in Veles were using the election, a hot and contested topic, to generate advertising revenue by driving internet traffic to their websites.

There has since been a proliferation of fake news, primarily of a political nature, appearing on social media and in the traditional news media. The BBC has questioned whether fake news is propaganda or online opinion, and whether people deliberately put out news to earn money online or if news agencies are simply making mistakes. Whichever the case, it is in the best interests of every government to understand and confront the fake news phenomenon. France, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Kingdom, among other countries, have embarked on efforts to enact regulations to curtail the fake news menace.

There have been various proposals on how to deal with fake news. The Brookings Institution proposes measures that would support investigative journalism, reduce financial incentives for fake news and improve digital literacy among the public. The idea of supporting investigative journalism to combat fake news is echoed by Bruce Mutsvairo and Beschara Karam in their book Perspective of Political Communication in Africa

Excerpt from per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 10, No. 2, 2020: 37-41.

Maj. (Ret.) Susan N. Osembo, a graduate of STACS 2014, serves as an Officer of the Economic Crimes Department, Kenya Ministry of Interior.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.