Verizon taps into blockchain for 'Full Transparency' on its news releases

In an era of rampant "fake news" allegations, Verizon is implementing a blockchain-verified record of changes to its news releases. Verizon's Full Transparency program, which was announced on Friday, is an open-source newsroom platform that was designed to raise the bar for corporate accountability.

Blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked together with cryptography. By design, the data from a blockchain can't be modified. It is an open, digitized, distributed ledger that can record transactions, or changes, between two parties in an efficient and secure manner.

By creating virtual ledgers, enterprises and service providers are able to track and manage information across various parties in a value chain. Blockchain, which was developed for bitcoin, tracks transactions as statements of facts that can be used in a digital economy by businesses, regulators, operators and consumers.

Verizon has taken those elements of blockchain to provide a track record of changes that have been made to its public news releases or communications. The Full Transparency initiative is a proof of concept service built in partnership with Huge, MadNetwork and AdLedger.

Verizon said a lack of transparency has the potential to undercut corporate credibility. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, nearly 60% of consumers globally believe that the media they consume is contaminated with untrustworthy information, which has probably accelerated in the current election climate.

Full Transparency's goal is to change the way corporate newsrooms provide visibility to their readers by holding themselves accountable for what they communicate to the public. Official news releases that incorporate Full Transparency are tracked on the blockchain ledger, so news releases or statements can be treated as "authoritatively reflecting what was intended to be released."

“As a technology company that quite literally connects people to information, we are excited to bring Full Transparency to market—a product that, in its own quiet way, can help ensure corporate accountability and trust,” said Jim Gerace, chief communications officer for Verizon, in a statement. “We invite organizations across the world that prize transparency as much as we do to adopt blockchain-verified communication practices.”

All news releases published on Verizon's newsroom site will be secured and bound using the cryptographic principles so that subsequent changes can be tracked and contextualized. If a release hasn't been modified on Verizon's site, the Full Transparency logo appears on the upper right-hand corner of the web page with the message "No changes."

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"Blockchain has long been associated with cryptocurrency, but that is just the beginning of what it can do," said Adam Helfgott, project lead at MadNetwork, in a statement. "MadNetwork is thrilled to power Verizon's approach, exploring how blockchain can be a critical part of enterprise software at scale, providing validation and authentication in the digital world."

The Full Transparency initiative is an extension of Citizen Verizon project, which is a business plan that drives economic, environmental and social advancement by promoting technology as a tool to improve communities, education and the workforce, according to Verizon.