We are living in a time when trust in the news is at an all-time low. Freedom of the press is declining around the world. Misinformation is rampant, weaponized and seemingly unstoppable. Tens of thousands of journalists have lost their jobs in recent years with no end in sight.
Whether you’re on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit or elsewhere on the web, you have very few signals to know if what you’re looking at is real. You don’t know the source of the information (or if who they say they are is real), you don’t know if the claims they make are real, and you have no way of knowing why or how this piece of media was selected for you. In this world, journalism is trying to serve a healthy diet amongst the glut of garbage, and you can’t taste the difference.
Meanwhile, your data is vacuumed up everywhere you go, collecting everything you read, click, share and buy (even offline) in order to train algorithms to serve you the most compelling content possible — trustworthiness be damned. This is how Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and much of the Internet makes money. In this world, the public’s need for quality, relevant news conflicts with a business model predicated on pulse-quickening, click-baiting tactics.
What if we could turn the web into a clean and well-lit space by illuminating its dark corners? Imagine a world where information sources are universally verified, like the Twitter blue checkmark but persistent across the web and bestowed via a transparent and open process. Imagine if every piece of content could be traceable back to a verified source, which could be pseudonymous if necessary. This means anywhere you go on the web, you could plainly see where it came from via a mechanism that can’t be spoofed by Russian trolls or Macedonian teenagers.
What if we could turn the perverse business models inside out by putting the power to own and control personal data in the hands of everyday people? Imagine a world where users could easily and securely control, share and even monetize their own data (and content, assets, etc.) however they choose with any publisher — or brand — they trust.
We call this vision THE TRUSTED WEB. And we’re building it at Civil.
- The trusted web replaces false identities with reputable identities.
- The trusted web replaces false information with verifiable information.
- The trusted web replaces black-box algorithms with transparent governance.
Think of it as a common platform and universal record for curbing misinformation and data piracy while also funding quality journalism in a trustworthy way.
Blockchain makes the trusted web possible with the following attributes:
- Transparency — Public record of verifiable proofs
- Decentralized — No central owner or authority
- Uncensorable — Beyond corporate or government shutdown
- Self-sovereignty — True data ownership and control for everyone
Introducing Civil ID
We’ve already advanced the cause of trust in the news with the Civil Registry, a transparent governance system run by journalists and the public they serve to ensure newsrooms abide by a code of journalistic ethics — like a Good Housekeeping seal for journalism.
The next big step in our journey is the creation of Civil ID, a new layer over the existing Internet made possible by blockchain technology, transparent governance and our newest work on reputable identities and verifiable information. This is major progress for the trusted web.
The simplest way to think about Civil ID is as a universal identity system for the web, owned and controlled by the end-user or organization. Identity (even if pseudonymous) not only builds trust; it supports journalism sustainability. For example, once a journalist or newsroom identity is permanently attached to a piece of content traveling across the web, they can see its true performance and price via a modern metering system. Civil ID also strengthens how licensees are authorized, defending against terms violations and cutting back revenue loss.
Identity also has profound implications for how news organizations manage the audience experience and convert revenue via either direct patronage or targeted advertising. For example, once newsrooms unify disparate audience data using Civil ID, they can more effectively optimize and personalize content, marketing, and ads while providing the end-user with full control over their data (and even introducing automated micro-rewards to incentivize sharing).
How it works and what’s next
For a technical deep-dive into our work, take a look at these two posts:
- Kirby and the birth of wall-apps by Dan Kinsley, Civil CTO
- (>’-’)> Kirby: a single-line web3 abstraction and bottom-up identity solution by Austin Griffith, burner wallet inventor and Civil collaborator
We’ll publish more details about what’s under the hood and new products built with Civil ID in the coming weeks. We are starting to showcase prototypes and invite feedback from our community and friends. If interested in an early look, please ping me @matthewiles on Twitter or by email at [email protected] Otherwise, stay tuned for more updates about Civil ID and our upcoming identity solutions for licensing and audience revenue over the next several weeks. Excited to share what we have in store!
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We’re all in this together
A global crisis requires bold thinking. To date, incremental thinking has not worked. That’s why Civil is putting forth a radical approach: to optimize the web for TRUST.
But we can’t do it alone. There are myriad journalists, academics and organizations who are trying to fix the information disorders and business woes that plague us. We consider them our partners and welcome collaboration on a path forward.
Same with you, a concerned citizen and supporter of independent journalism. If you believe we need a common platform and universal record of truth for the entire journalism industry (and web at large), then please support us today and tell your friends.