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Media and Crypto: Fake News vs. Accurate Reporting

Almost all media platforms have been interested in publishing, discussing and tackling Blockchain and Crypto news, as it is the new ‘talk of the town’. However, it might be a tricky job, for lack of understanding of this technology is helping in the spread of inaccurate news, which is continuously weakening trust in established legacy institutions.

This disinformation, often referred to as fake news, can impact two main areas: privacy and data protection on one hand, and freedom of expression and the right to receive reliable information on the other.

Is the media really interested in crypto news?

Not so long ago, cryptocurrency was a niche topic, so finding relevant content was an easy task for the media. But now people discuss crypto news anytime and everywhere, and more content is poured into the mix. As a result, the media found itself confronting the status-quo, following new types of articles, covering and publishing different types of news.

While it was not really its choice, the media has the potential to affect the crypto field positively, by educating people and familiarizing them with the new space, but it can also have negative consequences, causing both large rises and falls in price.

Despite the fact that education is extremely important when it comes to technology, the media has been playing a double-edged role, which is misleading the public.

For example, Binance had to deal with such issues, after the BSB Token Hub, a bridge between the BNB Beacon Chain (BEP2) and the BNB Chain (BEP20 or BSC), was exploited. 

Fortunately, Binance resumed operations of the BSC chain after releasing a software update that froze the hackers’ accounts.  It had to suspend deposits and withdrawals due to the hack that occurred on October 6, which led to losses amounting to $570 million due to this incident.

Different international media platforms have been referring to the hack as a “Binance hack”, which is completely inaccurate. In fact, “It’s the cross-chain bridge that sits between two blockchain allowing users to change from one token to another, which has been hacked”, stressed CZ in an interview with CNBC.

But why is this misinformation spreading?

False news is not new. However, the internet has enabled a whole new way to publish, share and consume information and news with very little regulation or editorial standards. This false information can be divided into many types such as propaganda, parody, sloppy journalism, or misleading headings, which is the case for Binance.

Stories that are not completely false can be distorted using misleading or sensationalist headlines. These types of news can spread quickly, especially on social media sites, where only headlines and small snippets of the full article are displayed on audience newsfeeds.

The internet and social media have made it very easy for anyone to publish content. So, when someone publishes false information, it could take seconds for that information to spread worldwide.

But the main question remains: what would happen if a reliable media platform was the source of this information?

Who is responsible for ensuring accurate reporting?

Journalists nowadays have been struggling to learn about this new world of technology, to understand what is really going on around them, and to be able to deliver it to the public.

Learning from scratch about this space is definitely not easy for everyone, but at the same time, it is not impossible to accomplish.

In fact, two main key players can help reduce this lack of information on the field and limit the spread of false information: news platforms and the players in the space, such as Binance.

Journalists need to keep up with the rapidly evolving media world, from techniques, to sources, topics and much more. At the time, they needed reliable sources and flow of information to help them learn and improve, and this is where technology giants need to step in.

During a panel discussion entitled, Crypto and Media: The View, The Perspective, The Chaos, which took place at the DWTC during Future Blockchain Summit, Walid Abou Zaki, the Founder and CEO of Unlock Blockchain, highlighted the importance of time invested in education when it comes to learning and digging deep into blockchain and crypto.

He explained, “From what I see in this market, I believe the mainstream media and the editors in the space don’t invest enough time to learn about this technology. It would be better to create and hire new editors and journalists instead of transferring mainstream media correspondents into this space.”

Could influencers be a source of fake news?

An “influencer” is what a lot of “social media stars” call themselves, although it’s definitely subjective. Nevertheless, whether they deserve the title or not, social media influencers have the power to affect the decisions of others because they have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic and they have a sort of authority or relationship with the audience. This is what makes brands fall in love with social media influencers, as they can with a simple post, create trends and encourage their followers to buy products they promote, visit places, and discover new fields.

But when it comes to the crypto space, people should know how to differentiate between the different types of influencers and content creators. Social Media influencers can play a huge role in misleading people, as they get paid to talk about topics that they themselves do not understand, or are not involved in. Businesses have found for many years that their sales usually rise when a celebrity promotes or endorses their product. However, is any celebrity/influencer/content creator/blogger/podcaster… eligible to tackle crypto-related news? Of course not, only a very few are, and they are certainly not the only ones to blame! 

Companies in the space should be blamed for choosing the wrong people to promote themselves, or even worse to vilify other companies or to defame their projects. People consider influencers a genuine source of news, and this is not something to betray, as it leads to very bad scenarios.

Accident vs. innocent mistake

It is true that lack of education is a main reason behind spreading false information, but it is certainly not the only one.

Despite the fact that journalism is expected to report “the truth”, the mainstream news media seems to play a significant role in the dissemination of fake news, which is not always as innocent as it seems.

Fake news is often created to influence views, as it spreads faster than real news, especially online. Individuals who encounter false information on social media may actively spread it further, by sharing or otherwise engaging with it. However, there’s a difference between simply posting propaganda and actually turning it into something that the target audience engages with.

The Crypto dictionary: Mumbo – Jumbo

Between unfamiliar acronyms, emerging technologies, and keeping up with tweets, learning only the basics of the crypto space takes time, even for seasoned traditional investors. This is one of the main reasons that both the audience and the journalists, or any news source, struggle to familiarize themselves with the space and consider it as any other field.

This is where entrepreneurs, in this case the tech people, should step in. The space needs to be closer to the people, to speak their language. This can increase the investment rate on one hand and reduce the vast amount of false news on the other.

HODL, Halving, DAO, DYOR, EVM, Gwei,… this is not an alien language. These are part of the crypto vocabulary that tech people invented and the rest of the people have no clue what they mean. 

And if the original term itself doesn’t seem understandable, what about its translation. Is it even translatable?

How could this misinformation spread be controlled?

Governments are starting to recognize that false news is something that must be actively fought. Various government agencies are now setting up services to debunk stories that they consider to be false. They are also considering imposing regulations and punishing sites that publish such information.

Among many other ways, Blockchain might itself be the solution. The first way in which blockchain can be used to combat disinformation is by tracking and verifying sources and other critical information for online media. Publications can use blockchain to create a registry of all the images they’ve published, making information such as captions, locations, consent to be photographed, copyright ownership, and other metadata verifiable by anyone.

Traditionally, the publisher was the primary source of the content’s reputation. However, reliance on institution-based reputation alone comes with some significant limitations. Trust in mainstream media is lower than ever, with a recent poll finding that 69% of U.S. adults say their trust in the news media has decreased in the past decade. When readers are largely getting their news from social media headlines, it can seriously impede their ability to distinguish credible journalistic outlets from interest-driven propaganda machines.

That’s where blockchain can help, for a blockchain-based system can both verify the identity of a content creator and track their reputation for accuracy, essentially eliminating the need for a trusted, centralized institution. 

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