back to article Fujitsu and Japanese Uni propose 'endorsement layer' to make the internet trustable

Fujitsu and Japan's Keio University have proposed adding an "endorsement layer" to the internet, to verify information and prevent the flow of fake news and disinformation. The need for such a layer is explained in a white paper and accompanying video released on Thursday. The video details a scenario in which a social media …

  1. cantankerous swineherd

    this from the firm that couldn't add post office accounts up properly

    1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      The poxy software in that case was bad enough. What really made the scandal as awful as it was and ruined peoples' lives (rather than just making them more difficult) was the coverup by Post Office management and subsequent prosecutions based on faulty evidence despite the problems already being known about.

      I'm not sure how much Fujitsu was (or wasn't) involved in the coverup itself; if they were, it would be utterly damning against them.

      Mind you, Fujitsu already has form on the trustworthiness issue; anyone remember about twenty years ago, they tried to cover up problems with huge level of failures in their hard drives?

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Fujitsu fully knew about the bugs and there was a memo shown during the court case that showed that Fujitsu engineers had informed management that these bugs could lead to false convictions.

        Horizon was originally developed as a system for managing the payments of benefits but it was rejected after testing, so they repurposed it and sold it on cheap to try and recoup the development cost.

        Fujitsu has a long history of covering up their blunders both in Japan and abroad.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    An endorsement layer

    Endorsed by users who are "better informed".

    Yeah. Like Russian hackers who want to "shape" opinion.

    This may seem like a nice idea, but if you're relying on Internetizens, you haven't solved the problem, you're just compounding it.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: An endorsement layer

      Believe it or not, they've thought of that. Read the article again.

  3. TheWeetabix Bronze badge
    FAIL

    OSI layer 6.5

    So basically we are moving facebook comments to their own internet layer. Yes… great.

    Jfc.

  4. SVD_NL Silver badge

    Oh hi there, slippery slope

    While the concept is great, trying to determine what is a trustworthy source is too vague to make it reality.

    Official measuring stations, sure. But what about government agencies? I'd say I personally think the Dutch Ministry of Health is trustworthy in terms of their covid numbers, but others would argue. What about 'official' measurements from certain authoritarian regimes?

    The politics involved with indicating certain government sources as trustworthy and not others are just something else.

    They also need to draw strict lines where to apply this, because if news media get involved this will surely get meaningless very quickly.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Oh hi there, slippery slope

      "While the concept is great, trying to determine what is a trustworthy source is too vague to make it reality"

      The ability to determine what is a trustworthy source is acquired by humans by accumulated experience in attempting to do so. It's an emergent skill that only develops if used. Replacing it by machine can only further assist the human skill to atrophy. If we supplant the requirement for human effort and attention sufficiently, our thinking could ultimately become so dependent on automated proxies controlled by third parties that we might as well be in the Matrix without the option of the red pill. At best, human mental capacities are phenomenal, but to become so they need to be exercise just like muscles do if you want to be an athlete.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Oh hi there, slippery slope

        The "human skill atrophy" argument has been used against every major technological advance since the alphabet. (And probably earlier, but for obvious reasons those arguments haven't been preserved.) And humans' ability is not nearly as powerful as you seem to think.

        For instance, remember when the Queen allegedly died? What sources did you see report that, and what further sources did you cross check to confirm it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh hi there, slippery slope

      The way a single reported rumored event from Outer Balachistan is - if clickworthy - spread across thousands of newsites without attribution - makes verification very difficult.

  5. SundogUK Silver badge

    This just shifts the goalposts a bit: Do you trust the people who are deciding what is trustworthy or not?

    If there are governments involved, certainly not.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      There was the job of "journalist" that used to do this sort of thing. Of course if they worked for certain newspapers you could largely ignore them, but for others you could get to trust their integrity.

      But then the internet came along and nobody got paid but the advert-whores...

  6. uro

    With an already highly propagandised media in the west where we have mainstream news organisations openly reporting with political bias and being under the control of state-entities & western oligarghs where they are editorialised into pushing the political views and agendas of their owners instead of a real "free press" where journalists report factual information with source citations and investigate all claims political or otherwise without fear or favour and the freedom to whistleblow when it is required, how can we lay any trust in an "endorsement layer" when our current mainstream media is so openly politically & socially manipulative and morally corrupt.

    Unless this "endorsement layer" is 100% transparent in ownership, funding streams and operation with the software stack fully free open-source I dont see it going anywhere, they are trying to set up an informational root-of-trust, an information firewall, but as with any root of trust how much trust do you hold in any organisation operating it, no less one that is filtering the very information you consume?

    Say for example a botnet manipulates a piece of information in this "endorsement layer" to push it to a high level of "endorsement" what will they have to combat that? Already on social media networks today you can easily find posts full of unverifiable content and political smear campaigns being pushed by networks of bot accounts to increase their exposure and engagement to such a high level that people will take those posts as fact just on the weight of the number of likes/shares/retweets without any source citations.

    You can even see this information manipulation at work with search engines, Alphabet/Google frequently derank results that do not adhere to western hegemony and that of its owners, quite often pushing easily debunked results and unrelated results in their place and thus defacto firewalling the internet by acting as the information police.

    People often decry China's "Great Firewall" project, this will be nothing more than the same if it is not a 100% open, transparent and accountable platform with regular auditing - one that will admit in the open and publicise if anything "endorsed" by it turns out to be false and/or manipulated information.

  7. sreynolds

    Usually fanatics endorse things...

    Was just thinking about a site whose intention given its name was to wage war on information, that had a fanatical following - that would be a trustworthy source of information and completely devoid of whack job conspiracy theories.

    Surely the follow the crowd model is the problem with social media - why you would infect other websites is beyond comprehension.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, thanks but no thanks

    1) Schemes like these require a government/authorities that you can trust.

    2) Countless news items over the past two years originally labelled as fake news or misinformation have actually ended up being true. Historical example: Go back a few hundred years and the concept that the Earth was not at the centre of the universe and that it orbits the Sun would be decried as misinformation by those in charge.

    All of this is about the digitally-enabled suppression of free speech and we're seeing it right across the globe. Admittedly, China are further along this path than anyone else but the West is certainly not that far behind.

  9. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    SEO again

    The trustworthiness algorithms will just get gamed like PageRank was.

    Plus you just end up with a massive echo chamber.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But people don't want the truth

    they want "the truth" that backs up their beliefs. Which no amount of "endorsement layers" will provide.

  11. Handlebars

    data sources

    Even an inappropriate emergency services response? But then goes on to say that the layer could use water level sensors as a data source. Could anyone guess that the emergency services use those in the first place rather than relying on social media.

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