- Fake news is becoming a major issue, as media outlets are losing the trust of the general public in the wake of recent political controversies.
- “Those who have made false reports and negative reviews would see their reputation value decrease, which would affect the weight of future actions and the amount of rewards to be received, gradually they will be phased out by the Internet,” says Belinda Zhou – DREP Foundation CMO – in an exclusive interview with BitStarz News.
- By implementing reputation scoring on media outlets, DREP’s blockchain platform will help to cleanse the world of fake news and false media reports.
Fake news is running rife in the media, with it having the power to seriously damage a company’s reputation. In the crypto world, a number of leading news outlets have published stories that later turned out to be nothing more than fake news. That is where the DREP Foundation comes in. Its blockchain gives platforms the ability to introduce a tokenized reputation incentive mechanism and bring numeric reputation values to content based on community consensus. This encourages a more engaged, high-quality, and self-governed media environment without tampering with current operation models.
This week, Alex Meears – a writer at BitStarz News – spoke with CMO Belinda Zhou from DREP Foundation to specifically discuss how it plans to remove fake news from the media.
AM: What gave you the idea to create DREP?
BZ: The genesis of the project is to encourage and facilitate the mass adoption of blockchain technology, so how to quickly attract c-end traffic became the primary question. Some of our inspiration stems from a book called “Building Web Reputation Systems”. The book highlights the fact that virtually every content sharing platform has some form of native reputation system.
We decided to use inherent reputation systems on platforms as a point of penetration to integrate blockchain technology more seamlessly into people’s daily lives. The graph below from the book and shows that most top websites are using at least one reputation system as an integral part of their business, and many have more than one.
Source: Building Web Reputation Systems
AM: Could you tell us a little bit about how DREP works and what problems it seeks to overcome?
BZ: As mentioned just now, we aim to build a decentralized reputation system to facilitate a more engaging, high-quality, and interconnected online community.
The two main industry pain points we want to solve are lack of mass adoption and low transaction throughput. Therefore, we provide a highly scalable blockchain architecture – DREP Chain – to deploy a reputation protocol that anyone with a content sharing platform can use.
DREP Chain is a novel scale-out architecture, with a mutually independent governance mechanism for the two-layer structure as well as within shards. DREP reputation protocol will provide a range of facilities to empower DApps to acquire low-cost C-side traffic, achieve high retention rate, and carry out fake news/contents/accounts screen-out mechanisms.
AM: Social scoring feels like something from an episode of Black Mirror, how will you protect users from being downgraded in terms of popularity and therefore reductions in monetization earnings?
BZ: I have watched that episode. In fact, China’s has already developed something similar called Sesame credit system, which scores people from 350 to 950 and blacklists low-rated people who get into debt. I personally think the intention of our project is good, but the metrics will require further refinement. However, the concept in the episode of Black Mirror is rather different to what we offer. At DREP we don’t conduct moral judgement, we simply utilize technology to enhance trust and self-governance among communities to combat fake news.
What DREP really does is to help incorporate blockchain technology into people’s daily lives as a technology enabler. The major chunk of my work is to expand DREP ecosystem by helping projects and applications to build on DREP and benefit from its infrastructure.
As for user security and privacy within DREP’s network, users have the freedom to open the data to other people in the reputation management account. Mainly users with high reputation value are more willing to open up access to their high reputation portfolio to attract more benefits from other platforms of a similar nature.
AM: Preventing false news from emerging in the media is a hot topic and DREP helps to solve the issue, does the system detect fake accounts that upvote content to make fake news appear legitimate?
BZ: Yes, this is actually one of the core issues that we aim to deal with through reputation protocol.
Firstly – starting off with reputation value – those who have made false reports and negative reviews would see their reputation value decrease, which would affect the weight of his future actions, and gradually they will be phased out by the Internet. Secondly, we can decrease the frequency of bad behaviours with the reputation cooldown mechanism. Thirdly, users in DREP network are economically incentivized to do good because they have a higher chance of garnering rewards as their reputation value grow. Finally, people in the network – such as transacting parties or news readers – will use reputation indicators to decide who to engage with or avoid. It is pretty much like a consensus agreed on a certain platform or DApp.
AM: How are DREP tokens spent? Will they be used to pay for content to be uploaded, or is there another use for them?
BZ: DREP tokens will be used as network gas, as well as a payment instrument for value-add services around the reputation connector such as target user acquisition and circulation tokens for small-and-medium DRApps (Decentralised Reputation Apps). So far we have already secured more than four DApps within the network.
The tokenomics will be combined with the service offerings on the platforms, so DREP tokens could be used for content such as videos to be uploaded or downloaded.
AM: What happens to DREP tokens once they have been spent on the platform? When the number of tokens reaches a critically low number will more be issued or will it cease to exist?
BZ: Tokens will be collected back into the rewarding pool via services provided within the ecosystem. For instance – on BitStarz News – the rewards can be recouped using potential services here, such as filtering ads, sponsoring favoured channels, tipping writers, etc. Therefore, there are lots of creativity and flexibility allowed with our reputation protocol.
AM: How do you plan to get media sites to get on board with the platform and how easy is it to integrate with existing systems?
BZ: Media sites have a higher need to help the reader to discern the good news from the bad.
We can help media sites to deploy reputation quantifying mechanisms for publishers so that readers are directed to more trustworthy publishers and those who have a better reputation portfolio. The double-way reputation vote mechanism could also be developed on media sites to increase engagement.
Most platforms have their own native reputation systems, so it wouldn’t be that complicated to integrate them. As a matter of fact, we already have received interest from several media sites that wish to trial our protocol. Currently, we are discussing the technical docking process with interested parties.
AM: What level of control over content do you have? Is there a chance for the community to fight against the system and only upvote fake news?
BZ: The users are the master of their reputation data. In the reputation account management of DREP ID, they can choose to reveal the data to other platforms based on their willingness.
On the technology level, will use homomorphic encryption and Zero Knowledge Proof to protect the privacy of user’s data.
AM: Would you like to see every media site – ranging from large news houses to small blogs – implement this platform?
BZ: Yes, we aim to provide a suite of tools for everyone to use. For large news houses, we provide the technology support on a complimentary basis. For individual users, we provide blog, forum templates for them to use.
We want to build an open network where DApps – media sites – would share users and data. At the same time, we will try to explore the boundaries of technical applications and users for blockchain, so that more traditional Internet users can gain access to blockchain technology in the most frictionless, convenient, and encouraging way.
We still have a few more months until the DREP main net is launched, but once it is fully active we can say goodbye to fake news and false information. We know you love the inside scoops, that’s why at BitStarz News we work relentlessly to bring you hot news and interviews from leading industry experts!