SAFE & Federated News

David Irvine has talked about the SAFE Network potentially enabling “a global federated news system”—changing how news is spread, by people ‘voting’ on content. [As discussed at 19:22 here: ] And, while I’ve seen it mentioned a few times now, I haven’t come across any specific description of how such a thing might work, and am curious if any others have ideas about what it might look like.

I’m sure most of us would like a system that provides for more balanced reporting and access to information. But, my worry is that even the SAFE Network could be easily manipulated by powerful groups with large computing resources and many SAFE accounts. (Naturally, I would be happy if anyone could suggest why my worry may be unfounded.) If the SAFE Network truly does succeed and gain wide adoption, such attempts at manipulation strike me as an inevitability—unless there is some mechanism I’m not aware of that would prevent this.

So, I suppose my question is: Is there a way (either in the design of the Network itself, or in applications built on top of it) to prevent or effectively deal with such manipulation?

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Dude, because even if big companies do use alot of money to put propaganda online,

Anyone else could easily put competing evidence and stories online as well, which will speak for themselves.

The only reason the corporations successfully rule the news right now is because they can squash other news sources which come from vulnerable centralized servers.

Once everything is decentralized and new news stories are unstoppable, the evidence will simply speak for itself.

Get it?

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As someone who is excited about the possibilities of Project SAFE, I agree that stopping Internet censorship is critically important. I’ve also been living and working for several years now in China—and I do understand what it’s like to have access to news and other information blocked.

However, I don’t think that “the only reason” corporations can manipulate the news is because of vulnerabilities of centralized servers. There are plenty of news stories online, with very compelling information, that receive very little public interest compared to more skewed corporate-controlled stories. Censorship plays a role, for sure—but I think it’s one of many complex reasons. Some of the most worrisome manipulations of information I’ve seen have resulted not from blatant censorship or attacks on people/organizations, but from more subtle steering of public sentiment.

People can be susceptible to flawed reasoning, and emotional appeals. I don’t think it’s correct to just assume that “the evidence will speak for itself”—at least not in every case. The truth can be a powerful thing, but it’s not guaranteed that people will always believe it when it’s presented to them, especially if powerful and clever opposition exists. I’m sure most (if not all) of us here have seen debates (political or otherwise) where the majority of people in the audience supported a weaker argument by a speaker simply because it was emotionally appealing, or delivered in a deceptive way.

Truth, and people’s perception of it, can be manipulated in many ways—even when competing ideas are allowed to exist. I would welcome a paradigm shift in which a network like SAFE could help us provide each other with more honest and objective information about the world. Yet, based on my current understanding, I still have concerns that it might not be as simple to let the truth speak for itself as some might assume.


Well thanks for trying to bring us all down lol, thanks for that.

Really helpful :stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously, I have faith that the people will overcome that BS, and SAFE will be an amazing push in that direction

Just thinking out loud. To manipulate you’d have to be an honest node, online consistently. You could have a bot run votes to news that has certain keywords that you would like to disseminate. If there was something like captcha that deterred bots then that could help. But if safecoin was valuable enough then having the nodes online (news employee) and a news company provides resources (company computers) then it could be feasible for people to be personally delegated to such a task so back to square one. Trying to rule out possibilities and get gears grinding @SilasB Still thinking

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Based on hash tables? Irvine says they distribute in an equal fashion. It would be more difficult for a news service to be perfectly distributed as an app that ran as such

Check this design pattern

You will see how this can all be done very differently from toady’s mindset. I think the network can be used to significantly improve today’s way of working. Imagine news outlets news was limited, but able to be pushed amongst friends rather than polluting the space with all the cash etc. they have. I am not saying make this the only way to publish a lot of info, but imagine for a while how this could be done differently.


I believe a simple system of Micro tips would automatically create a automated content filter, the cream rising to the top, the shit sinking to the bottom.

Your votes up and down are small amounts of crypto currency, This Promotes decent content for 1 (decent content gets up voted more the better content you provide the more up votes you are likely to receive, Each tip is a tiny amount but over accumulation it becomes something more worth while

This also doesn’t completely prevent abuse of the system but makes it much more costly, Down voting lots of articles with lots of accounts begins to start costing more and more money each day.

A downvote could in effect take away from the account sender micro amounts, so they end up having a negative balance amount , now even if they don’t wish to put anything in their account, it will negate any positive comments they make aferwards until they are caught up with all the crap they posted previously.

Now this is as basic of an idea that you can get, it would require more fine tuning to be a functional system but nonetheless it is a system that would work better and be less manipulated than the majority of systems social websites are currently using.

The idea for dealing with email spam, as referenced by @dirvine, is interesting. Passively relying on the integrity of others in agreeing not to harass you (as is the case with current email systems) certainly doesn’t seem like an ideal solution—so it’s nice to see that there may be more proactive ways of avoiding unwanted solicitation with SAFE.

As for news, I’m not exactly clear on how a similar strategy might work with it—but I can see how the network might help information to spread more horizontally among friends and other contacts. That being said, it still seems like highly ranked (and possibly manipulated) news would have a greater likelihood of being spread—even if friends were responsible for most of the news’ dissemination following its initial discovery by someone in your ‘circle’. But, perhaps some of the safeguards mentioned by @Nigel would help in this area. Yes, people could be employed to help manipulate the network—but I guess this would at least be more difficult to hide than an automated process that would never defy its employer.

Regarding microtips, mentioned by @gohan00760, I think the idea has a lot of potential. Just witnessing some of the things that have been happening in that area recently with Bitcoin has really struck me as something that could dramatically change the way people are rewarded for what they create. Deducting tips with downvotes, however, seems less feasible to me, with many potential abuses that could result from such a mechanism. But, the general idea of decentralized incentives is a great one—and is, of course, one of the reasons many people are excited about the SAFE Network.

On a more general note, I think the issue of “news” (or any subject centered on how to best provide ourselves with important, truthful information) is a hard one. I like the idea of limiting manipulative propaganda, and preventing dishonest uses of the network—although I’m not interested in limiting the resources people have (be it money, skills, or labor), as long as they’re not used abusively towards others. If SAFE is able to effectively enable more voices (regardless of whether the voices are powerful or small), while also defending against manipulation and deception, it will certainly be a wonderful change.

But, I must admit, I also have concerns about relying on the majority to decide the truth. Wikipedia, for example, has long been a project I’ve had great respect for, and one I actively support. At the same time, I do have worries regarding the “democratization of knowledge”. Should every voice have equal weight, regardless of subject matter? Would people ‘vote’ more for news that made them feel better, or that matched certain preconceptions—rather than news that spoke of unpleasant, or counter-intuitive, truths? Would a well-meaning, but less-knowledgeable, majority overshadow the voices of expert analysis?

I suppose various “content filters” and algorithms could be used to try to address these issues. Obviously, that would be up to the developers and users of such apps on top of the network. And, different developers/users would obviously have different ideas of how such voting should be balanced (or if it should be “balanced” at all).

I know that theories of the role of the “majority” have already been discussed here before, and it is not my intention to get off into debates of socio-political theory. My main curiosity with this is how SAFE might change current structures through technical means—and how the network, and the individuals using it, will respond when some of those structures push back. For now, I guess we’ll have to anticipate what we can, and respond to the rest as things develop.

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Perhaps source or fact checking could be incentivized. Not all those reading a news feed would do this but being that the incentive is there it could have great potential. A very simple solution but first thing that popped in my head.

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We should use Reddit’s format of upvotes and downvotes for the federated news system :slight_smile:

It’s a great way to do this

I have an idea of giving upvotes more points than downvotes. Such as +3 for an upvote and -1 for a downvote. Many people click downvotes just to game the system.

A federated news system would be great, not sure about the voting mechanism etc. If this forum itself is a model of how this would work, then I’d have concerns. Dis-information is rife and correcting this dis-information is not really something that is apparently desired - , more of an annoyance to readers from my experience - and that’s on a technical forum…lol. I think it may even end up with a worse system potentially if it’s not done right.

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I have heard that when lots of people guess the value of something then they individually are mostly way wrong. The interesting thing is that when taking the average (median?) of all the guesses, the value becomes very accurate! A technique like that would be interesting to experiment with.

When it comes to news there is the additional problem of disinformation. People can be made to believe that soldiers threw babies out of incubators and left them to die on the cold floor, when in fact the story is totally made up propaganda, delivered by “trusted” news “authorities”.


Twitter already kind of serves as an existing example of federated news vs. MSM (of course minus the servers and advertisements for Safe news).

Sure, propaganda and disinformation can still be spread but it’s not nearly as successful.


The idea sounds interesting, although it seems like it would be difficult to really verify and properly reward such fact-checking. Source-checking sounds a little more feasible, although I think even that could pose some significant challenges. It’s certainly something that might merit some thought, though.

Twitter is also an interesting comparison. It has definitely proved to be an effective alternative to controlled information sources in many countries and cases over the years. But I think it does introduce some of its own risks, such as occasionally making original sources of information harder to identify (depending on how the news is passed along, at least).

As I’m sure is the case with many others here, I like to get the broadest sampling of news reasonably possible, so I can (hopefully) minimize the various slants and biases each system can introduce. Since there are different risks inherent in various types of sources, it’s useful to be able to cross-compare.

Along similar lines, I do have some concerns with any single system of news becoming too popular. Perhaps multiple small ‘federations’ with contrasting ideologies would prove more balanced and robust than a single system that became ubiquitous.

It would be quite ironic if efforts to decentralize something resulted in an alternative that, over time, became centralized itself. Then again, one could argue that such a tendency has been a defining pattern throughout history.

Well, this is good and deals with one of the problems in front of us. So I think a federated news system is a good thing.

The only problem that I see are minorities. While democracy is better than the kind of monetized oligarchies that control the media currently, you still have the tyranny of the majority to worry about. This particularly true because you have existing centralized systems and prejudices.

Presumably people are voting on issues that they know about, that happened localized to them.

The problem with this is that what happens when a white cop shoots a black man, or vice versa. I just think that if the community in which that event takes place is overwhelming black or overwhelmingly white that you are going to have a radically different set of facts presented by the Federated news and latecomers to the game will have to choose based on their prejudices, and will have the same inability to know what REALLY happened that you see right now.

Not to say that this isn’t a good idea, or worthwhile. But some of the larger problems with the existing media state will not be fixed by going with a decentralized model.

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Excellent point and I agree. I feel silly not remembering links but there is actually a service that takes all social media videos pertaining to current news and gets as much info as possible to match up wether it’s reused photo, in the correct geographic location, etc. and showing the reference trail if you will. still not a perfect system but def useful. I’ll look for the link I may have saved it

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