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The Story... 

Disinformation is a well-admired threat to democracy.  While most individuals and corporations admit that disinformation is to be avoided, there are competing financial interests from social media and news aggregators.  Many of the efforts to date have been focused on detecting false information after it has been published.  This approach is suboptimal and does not use a holistic view of the world or the problem.

Trust:  One of the challenges with digital media is that there is no data provenance.  When consumers read a story online they don’t know if the author is being truthful about the source of information.  Blogs and social media users often misrepresent the originating source, content, or context of material.  Consumers have sources that they trust.  If a piece of online media could be authoritatively tied to a source, the consumer can make an educated decision on the truth of a subject based on their trust of the source.Authenticity:  One of the challenges of digital media is that it is easy to make an exact copy.  Malicious actors can then take media and digitally alter it in a way that is almost indistinguishable from an unaltered image without the use of digital forensic techniques.  The use of public key cryptography and hashes allow for easy detection of altered media.

Context:  Due to the ability to currently make exact duplicates of digital media, even pictures that are watermarked by authoritative news sources can be reproduced and shown to support false contexts.  Blogs have been known to take pictures from legitimate news stories/sources and use those pictures in a completely different context to advance a false or misleading narrative.

Declining markets:  Many traditional sources of news have struggled with the Internet age.  A reduction in subscriptions has led to a depressed market for journalists.  This is evidenced by the increase in editorial content as opposed to new reporting.

Financial:  Most people get their news from either social media or new aggregators rather than the originating source.  This means lower traffic of print media as well as Internet traffic to the originating journalistic source.  Reduced traffic leads to reduced advertising revenue and an overall depressed market.  Recent court cases in Australia have shown that Internet providers such as Facebook and Google are no paying fair market price to originating journalistic sources.  While they have the ability to collect metrics on how often this content is read on their sites, it is against their financial interest to share this information with originating sources.  Further, social media companies have an inherent financial interest in supporting bombastic click-bait and content that elicits a strong emotional reaction.  Strong reactions drive engagement and engagement drives advertising dollars.

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