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Abstract

Social networking sites are a popular, easy, and cheap way for broadcasting information, including textual news articles, images, and videos. Thanks to news digitization, people can post non-verified and inauthentic false news that looks like a true news report and can mislead individuals and even groups. The intention behind sharing these posts is not always malicious, but sometimes unawareness or blind unfounded trust. During the US election 2016, the top 20 fake election stories created 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook, while the top 20 best performing stories from 19 major websites (such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, BuzzFeed News) posted 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. Fake news can also manipulate the stock market, such as the explosion tweet injuring the US president in 2013, which caused a $130 billion deficit. Fake news impact also on other domains like product reviews. False information categories are fake news, satire, misinformation, rumour, hoax, disinformation, propaganda, and opinion spam.

In the EU Horizon 2020 project ARTICONF, the University of Klagenfurt develops a decentralized blockchain-based social media platform applied (among other use cases) on crowdsourced citizen journalism. The use case develops a decentralized marketplace for collecting, disseminating, and analyzing incentivized news information recorded and created by citizens. In general, such a marketplace transforms the citizens’ smartphones into smart objects that capture and propagate breaking news content through a decentralized platform. Citizen journalism is a popular phenomenon that empowers every person to upload images, photos, videos, audios, and text comments on important events. It captured in recent times many terrorism-related activities broadcasted by the mainstream media. However, citizen journalism also raises uncertainties related to the lack of verification mechanisms of information sources, giving rise to an onslaught of fake news.

The ARTICONF project provides a preliminary step in fighting fake news with an underlying blockchain-based architecture that verifies and traces the sources of immutable news information created and transacted across the decentralized news marketplace. However, ARTICONF does not address the problem of combatting fake news through intelligent misbehaviour detection and mitigation strategies in online social networks and media. The University of Klagenfurt intends to bridge this gap in future follow-up projects.

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