Essential Introduction to the Trusted Web
Even though the internet has brought us many good things, it has a deep-rooted issue: trust. Quite obvious, as trust wasn’t part of the internet’s design. The internet was built to connect computers to computers.
And computers do not dream; do not care about power or self-enrichment, as they have no ego. Humans do. And therefore, we now suffer fraud, manipulation, and theft on a daily basis on the internet, which echoes back to the real world.
So, to save the world, we need to fix the internet. Simply said: if information impacts your life, you deserve transparency and a sender who takes accountability. For the first time in history, an open, simple, and therefore inclusive solution is available to make transparency and accountability the default on the Internet: timestamping.
Together, through timestamps, we’ll change the DNA of the internet for the better, so that it will become a safe and trustworthy place, which results in a better society for every human on earth; today and for future generations.
Through timestamping, the internet becomes The Trusted Web.
The Trusted Web
The Trusted Web is the successor of the current internet. It’s evolutionarily superior. At its core, it is about transparency and accountability for all messages that matter. Content that impacts your life should be transparent (how did it change over time?) and the sender of that information should take accountability by connecting their personal and/or organizational identity. Whether it is a school, a business, a government, a politician, a manufacturer, or a shop or an individual writing a review: any consumers of information, must be able to verify sources independently.
And although the tech is straightforward (“Timestamp”), a holistic ecosystem approach (“The ‘Trusted Web’ Ecosystem”) with multiple stakeholders is needed. A collaboration between citizens, shop- and website owners, platforms, social media, search engines, advertisers, and policymakers.
What helps is that the Trusted Web aligns the interests of all those stakeholders in a magical way. It is, eventually, a win-win for all who handle with integrity.
But before we discover the role per stake holder, here’s the base concept, as invented in 1991: a Timestamp!
Trust must be part of the internet’s DNA. And trust arises from transparency and accountability. A blockchain timestamp offers both.
In 1991, blockchain was invented for timestamping information. With a blockchain timestamp, I can prove the existence of my content and its revisions. In the front-end of your website or shop, a Timestamp Certificate can be shown to your website visitors, with an explanation of the certificate in a human-readable way.
Timestamping the content that matters, brings accountability, transparency, and therefore verifiable trust. It is all about integrity by design, instead of the receiver having to hope it exists.
Stakeholders of the Trusted Web Ecosystem
To achieve the ‘Trusted Web’, collaboration is needed between these five stakeholders:
- Site- and platform owners
- Big-tech platforms
Consumers Demand Integrity by Design
Living on The Trusted Web is better than living on the current web. Therefore, consumers must actively pursue websites to add this level of transparency and accountability. You should demand it: if it impacts your life, you should be able to verify the origin of the information. And they might, as every single institute researching it, signals declining trust in the internet. Consumers demanding a Trusted Web will spark this revolution!
- Trust barometer
Sites, Shops, and Platforms: Start Time-stamping Today
Content lives up to Trusted Web standards if changes are visible (and verifiable!) and if someone can easily be held accountable. This is done by timestamping it on the blockchain at the moment of publication and providing a timestamp certificate. Tools like WordProof do this for you, automatically. Now, seconds after publishing, visitors can now verify when content was edited and, if the sender chooses so, see how it changed over time.
All impactful content – whether static pages, news items, terms and conditions, product information, or something else – should offer transparency. When was it changed? What’s the history of the content? With timestamps, you can bring this level of transparency. The best part: website visitors, search engines, and social media platforms can now verify themselves and no longer need to hope for the website to handle with integrity.
Both the visitors and search engines should be able to access those timestamps, to be able to verify the source and therefore the trustworthiness.
Mind you, you being transparent isn’t ‘just’ a favor for your reader, buyer, or citizen. Firstly, think of being transparent as a competitive advantage. Secondly, what if search engines and social media platforms, by heart OR because of regulations, start rewarding your transparency and the level of accountability you take?
Big-tech Rewards Through Ranking
Consumers demanding timestamps can be one argument for site and platform owners to start timestamping, but there’s more. It’s about multiple stakeholders working in tune. Big-tech platforms need to reward those who offer transparency and take accountability for their content.
“Content discovery happens via big-tech. People consume news mainly through Facebook, Twitter, and Google. To make the internet trustworthy, you need to zoom in to just these three companies. All techniques and standards relevant to the adoption of timestamps are open-source, but mainly in control by those companies at the same time.” said Joost de Valk, founder of Yoast, a company focussed on Search Engine Optimization that currently runs on over 11.000.000 websites (16% of the web).
The incentives for timestamping are aligned: content that’s transparent in how it changed over time AND has a sender who takes accountability is arguably a higher-quality result for the user of a search engine or social media platform.
When big-tech rewards sites that are transparent with higher rankings, it’s a no-brainer for site and platform owners to timestamp their valuable content from a business perspective. And although there are many other arguments for timestamping (read 10 Reasons to Timestamp Content or watch this presentation covering different use-cases), the true magic happens if big-tech and policymakers join forces.
Why are policymakers essential to reach a trustworthy internet?
Policymakers Require Time-stamping
Governments are responsible for protecting society and its citizens. A truthful internet makes a trustworthy society. Therefore, to save the world, we need to fix the internet. Transparency and accountability lead to a more trustworthy internet, thus making the Trusted Web principles mandatory for vital information is an obvious step for policymakers.
Continents like Europe deeply care about a better internet (hence GDPR), while they acknowledge that open-source blockchain technology can massively contribute to a better internet.
Each continent represents a massive group of consumers. This is a chance for policymakers to define the playing field: ‘If you want a piece of the action, these are the rules for venturing here’. That’s what Europe did with GDPR, and that’s how we expect policymakers to enforce timestamping, leading to a Trusted Web. With regulation in place, adoption will go fast. This is every policymaker’s chance to take the lead to a better, trustworthy, more truthful internet.
This is every policymaker’s chance to take the lead to a better, trustworthy, more truthful internet.Sebastiaan van der Lans
The beauty of GDPR is that it empowers citizens in controlling their data. That’s typically how Europe approaches a better internet. Empowering, as opposed to censoring or becoming internet police. Timestamping isn’t about policing the internet. It is an open-source approach to anchor ‘this information existed at this specific moment in time’, and being able to verify who the sender is.
Advertisers Reward ‘Brand Safety’
There’s one more stakeholder that has the power to accelerate the adoption of the ‘Trusted Web’ massively; advertisers.
- Consumers buy products, services, or change behavior, … because of advertisers who advertise!
- Site, shop, and platform owners know that a higher rank in big-tech results in more revenue. In publishing, this revenue comes from … advertisers.
- Big-tech optimizes for profit. This profit comes straight from … advertiser spend.
If advertisers stop spending, the internet’s main revenue model basically collapses.
So, advertisers vote with their wallets. They do this by choosing what media they advertise on, and, every once in a while, large advertisers show muscles by Boycotting; by NOT spending on a specific platform, as the platform doesn’t comply with the advertiser’s needs and wants, as recently happened with #StopHateForProfit. Major advertisers on Facebook reduced their spending by millions of dollars in July to change policy there.
Advertisers can, by voting with their wallet, accelerate the adoption of the ‘Trusted Web’ massively, by simply demanding from any outlet “I only advertise on content that complies with specific levels of transparency and accountability.”
The reason for doing this is simple: While ‘Brand Safety’ is a Fundamental Building Block for Successful Advertising, it’s at Risk.
With the Trusted Web in place, for the first time in history, there’s a completely open way to prove who was the maker of content, and secondly, if there has been tampered with content. This comes with major benefits for advertisers too.
A truthful internet makes a trustworthy society. Therefore, to save the world, we need to fix the internet. Transparency and accountability lead to a more trustworthy internet and blockchain timestamps are an open-source way to provide this at scale.
A holistic timestamp ecosystem brings integrity any content and commerce. Through timestamps, we can bring transparency and accountability to content and advertising, and therefore make trust and brand safety part of the internet’s DNA.
Now we have tools:
- to fight the resistance of tech giants,
- decrease the impact of fake news,
- bring blockchain into the daily life of its inhabitants and
- offer a level playing field in case of disputes.
To y’all site owners: you can literally change the world with your website!
Let’s build the Trusted Web, together.