Commentary

Will Adobe Help Curb 'Fake News' As 2020 Election Looms?

The New York Times, software maker Adobe and social network Twitter this week announced a plan aimed at curbing the spread of "fake news" through digital media. It's too early to tell whether more digital publishers will adopt the Content Authenticity Initiative, but it's another sign that content providers are working with Silicon Valley to do something positive for democracy.

Adobe's framework is designed to let authors verify their content and help consumers feel more confident about the authenticity of that news and information, the company said in an announcement. Adobe makes software like PhotoShop and Acrobat that's widely used by publishers.

U.S. political ad spending is forecast to surge 57% to $9.9 billion next year from 2016, inundating voters in swing states with campaign messaging. Voters can be forgiven if they have trouble sorting through the claims and counterclaims made about candidates and issues.

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Even more sinister will be the efforts by foreign countries to meddle in U.S. elections by creating fake social-media identities that spread propaganda about divisive issues. The House Intelligence Committee has a website dedicated to ads that Russian entities posted on Facebook.

The social network last week said it had identified Russian efforts to interfere in African elections, showing that its "troll farm" is alive and well. There's no reason to expect the fake-news impresarios to sit out next year's U.S. election.

Ideally, voters will try to become more informed about candidates and issues, seeking out information from publishers of fact-based journalism. Adobe's authenticity initiative is a good step in the right direction.

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