Reading Time: 2 minutes

One of the dramas of those who work with images is to discover the origin of the material that is used. The News Provenance Project, an online platform, promises to help with this problem. They present themselves as an initiative to collaborate with publishers and platforms to help combat misinformation on the Internet.

According to them, a Research and Development group from The New York Times is incubating this project, with technical support from IBM. Through user search and technical prototyping, the project explores the context that can match the visual content.

The question asked by them is: “How can we build a more transparent Internet, where the source of an image is clearly stated?”. To do so, in 2019, the News Provenance Project joined IBM Garage to create a proof of concept as an example of how this idea might work. They exploited the blockchain technology as a way to store contextual information about news photos.

The company argues that the blockchain choice is due to its data structure, which can help maintain a transparent and immutable record of the origins of a photo: when, where and by whom it was taken, who published it and how it was used in a network of news organizations.

When designing the proof of concept, the goal of the project was to find out what would be significant for users. From there a second question was asked: “How to ensure that the context we present would help people understand what is reliable?”.

Image consumption

From then on, the project was destined to learn more about how people evaluate news photos in their social media feeds. And so, three other questions were asked. “How do people decide to rely on a photo on social media?”, “How do people from different economic, social and political backgrounds think about misinformation?” and “What kind of information will help people feel confident in judging what is credible?”.

Based on this assumption, detailed and individual conversation groups were held with 34 adults from all over the U.S., with people who had a mix of political trends and media preferences.


Still for later this year, the group’s expectation is the launch of a new phase of this project – moving from research to execution – to show how an end-to-end solution can help users share reliable news with confidence.