The award winning student newspaper of Lake Oswego High School

Lake Views

The award winning student newspaper of Lake Oswego High School

Lake Views

The award winning student newspaper of Lake Oswego High School

Lake Views


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How will today be remembered in tomorrow’s history books?

During the Super Bowl LVIII halftime show, Alica Keys messed up her first note. Videos posted after the event do not include the mess up. In five to 10  years, will the note even be remembered? Will you be able to trust your own memory of events that don’t match up with the “official record?” While this may not be a “big deal,” it shows the ability to manipulate the truth of an event after the fact. Historically, history has been stored as a hard copy. Today, for the first time, our history will be stored digitally. It is remotely editable and can be untraceably deleted. The rise of Artificially Generated Intelligence (AGI) allows it to be totally faked. While history has always been edited after the fact, falsified, and hidden, today’s technology makes this significantly easier and more dangerous. How will today’s history be remembered tomorrow? As technology changes, new solutions and dangers emerge.

The altering of history is an action shared by Nazi Germany, Stalin Russia and Mao China. During the rise of these evil powers, history was changed to better represent their ideologies, historical artifacts were destroyed, and “alternative” information was suppressed. After World War II, Japan tried to downplay its involvement in the war, its use of forced labor and prostitution and wartime atrocities. History can also be rewritten for good; in the 19th and 20th centuries, the U.S. rewrote its history to more accurately explain the role of slavery-meaning that history had been edited to show an inaccurate version before this.

The intermingling of government, mainstream media and news has also been a historic problem. When information itself is centralized, wide-scale manipulation of truth becomes easy. In the 1980’s, the CIA’s Project Mockingbird was exposed. The operation was said to have at least 400 journalists who were found to have been compromised by the CIA. While the operation is said to have been stopped, it is clear that governments can and have infiltrated the news media. Third-party interests can also influence the media. Big pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars a year on advertisements, making it hard for sponsored news outlets to report or criticize said companies accurately—this clear conflict of interest clouds reliability in some fields. 

As some have begun to distrust the “legacy” media, social media has allowed for a new “alternative” media. Unfortunately, Social media is not immune to infiltration and influence. In 2023, following his purchase of (then) Twitter (now X), Elon Musk released a series of documents known as the Twitter Files to a group of journalists. The files exposed the suppression of stories such as the Hunter Biden Laptop, evidence of regular FBI contact with executives; requesting content removal and account suspensions, and evidence of Big-Pharma lobbying to censor “COVID misinformation,” and a history of data sharing with third-party companies and governments. Journalist Lee Fang saw evidence that “the social networking giant provided direct approval and internal protection to the U.S. military’s network of social media accounts and online personas, whitelisting a batch of accounts at the request of the government. The Pentagon has used this network, which includes U.S. government-generated news portals and memes, in an effort to shape opinion in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, and beyond.”  In Germany, the Network Enforcement Act requires social media platforms to remove posts classified as hate speech, defamation, or “fake news.” Failure to do so in under 24 hours (Seven days in some cases) can result in fines of up to $54 million. Many posts have been unjustly removed due to the terms’ loose definitions and enforcement. Government and third-party involvement in social media censorship create tremendous problems for the future accuracy of today’s history.

How do we secure an accurate history in the future? The answer may already exist: Blockchain. Blockchain is a database technology commonly used for cryptocurrency. Blockchain is uniquely transparent and secure for several reasons. Blockchain is essentially a digital ledger, except instead of being centralized to one computer, it is stored across a network of devices (nodes). This means there is no single point of control or weakness, making it harder to tamper with and more secure. Each block comprises multiple “transactions” or “versions” and is then added to a chain of other transactions where it can no longer be altered. 

Using Blockchain to store history is a legitimate possibility with lots of advantages. Blockchain would allow a decentralized archive of documents and records to be accessible to anyone with an internet connection. It would make it very hard for someone to censor or change anything. Blockchain’s real potential could be utilized in a Blockchain-based decentralized news platform. The platform could be a social media-like news outlet managed by a group of independent contributors rather than one company. All stories would be posted directly onto the chain, avoiding and preventing government and third-party censorship. Smart contracts, a self-executing code, could ensure the verification of stories and prevent misinformation. This would require a combination of information from an oracle network- off-chain information provided by independent nodes-and incentivized independent user input. The process would be fully transparent, and rather than censorship or bans, a reputation “score” could help users decide whether to trust the source. Using digital mechanisms to search the entire base of on and off-chain information quickly eliminates the possibility of an organization unfairly censoring or mislabeling information based on personal bias, lack of knowledge and political pressure.

Blockchain and other new technologies create new opportunities for an unbiased and decentralized news platform that protects today’s information and opinions from alteration and deletion. We must defend the right to the freedom of the press, which in today’s age should include social media, by decentralizing the control over today’s history.

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