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AdBlock Plus Developer Creates Blockchain-Assisted Browser Extension to Combat Fake News

The advent of social media has brought with it the rise of fake news. Although it should be noted that deceptive information has been around before social media, social networking sites gave a lot of incentives for people to create false reports as hey can bring in traffic if they gain traction.

As such, a lot of entities are trying to mitigate this trend and bring back trustworthy journalism. One of the latest endeavors in this movement is the development of a browser extension that can rate the credibility of websites.

Created by Adblock Plus developer eyeo GmbH, the extension, called Trusted News, will leverage the benefits of blockchain technology to bring web users reliable information, Cointelegraph reported. The browser add-on is still in its beta phase and is currently only available for Google Chrome.

Trusted News functions by categorizing sites as “trustworthy,” “unknown,” “clickbait” or “satire." Credible sources are marked as "trustworthy." The extension determines this by compiling data from varying sources such as Zimdars' List, PolitiFact, Wikipedia, and Snopes.

If a certain website consistently provides accurate reporting, the browser add-on will mark it as "credible." If not, then it will suffer a bad review and be labeled accordingly.

The extension will function under the MetaCert protocol, which “uses an anti-fraud URL registry to maintain the database for the project,” with the said database eventually transferred to the Ethereum blockchain.

Among the sites that are most likely going to take a hit are those centered on sensationalizing topics or exaggerating sources to the point that the stories become completely false. In 2017, Wikipedia categorized The Daily Mail as an unreliable news source as it has a history of “poor fact checking, sensationalism, and flat-out fabrication,” as described by the editors who voted for the ban.

Trusted News will also have a feedback feature where people can dispute a site's low credibility score. This is important as the team behind the add-on is giving a voice to ordinary users.

“They can say ‘hey I don’t feel like this site should be listed as biased because whatever’. And we’re going to use that feedback to make the product better. And then the next step is to decouple that from any server, and from any third party, and give it directly to the blockchain,” said Ben Williams, eyeo GmbH's director of communications and operations. “So that that feedback can live on its own in that place and so that good feedback can be prized and rewarded among users, and people who are providing bad feedback won’t be. So that is the next step.”

Williams said that the browser add-on is still in development and they want to see if this product will provide value for online users. Whitelisting is also a no-go for websites trying to circumvent Trusted News’ judgment.

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