- The Trusted News Initiative is working with new partners on ‘Project Origin’ to digitally watermark harmful U.S. election content.
- The watermarks “flag up content that undermines trust in partner news providers by identifying imposter or manipulated content.”
- The battle against misinformation has intensified the closer the U.S. election date appears, creating multiple options for publishers.
The Trusted News Initiative, an international news and tech coalition, has joined forces with a fellow coalition, Project Origin, to curb harmful misinformation with a digital watermark for authentically created media that degrades when content is manipulated. Together, they’ll verify and label such content in the month leading up to the U.S. election by flagging “disinformation which poses an immediate threat to life or to the integrity of the election.”
The TNI includes The Washington Post, Facebook, Twitter, Google/YouTube the Associated Press and others. The group recently challenged misinformation regarding COVID-19, Taiwan’s 2020 General Election and the UK’s 2019 General Election.
The watermark will be advantageous to publishers, who depend on trust in the age of “Fake News Media,” as popularized by U.S. President Donald Trump. As Trump’s two-week Twitch suspension ended, he confirmed a 2018 cyberattack on a Russian troll farm. Despite attacking disinformation, the president’s recent controversial comments led to the kind of content labeling Project Origin now promotes.
Reading the labels
Axios identifies several initiatives similar to Project Origin over the past two years, including Newsguard and Digimarc Corporation. Google and Twitter recently employed fact-check labels, the latter escalating Trump’s battle with Big Tech in the process. Facebook, though highly criticised for lacking political content moderation, upgraded its algorithm to identify and amplify trustworthy news sources.
As the field widens, news publishers will have to decide which tools work best for them. Though TNI and Project Origin boast strong pedigrees, the watermark isn’t out yet. Time will tell how effective it will be.
Still, given most Americans’ higher distrust of the government over tech companies regarding credible content, Project Origin may well be off to a good start.