Project Idea: Building a Trust Network
Platforms give users a few affordances to contextualize another user’s speech. Twitter, for example, shows verification, an indicator of the speaker’s authenticity, and follower count, and indicator of how interesting this person is. They also provide lagging affordances of accuracy such as fact checks.
A new affordance, trustworthiness, would help users make decisions about who to trust and what to share or amplify, even for content not yet fact checked or even content impossible to check.
A “trust layer” could take the form of a browser extension where users can publicly mark other users as trusted or distrusted in general or on specific topics.
Made up example of a user expressing trust in another.
Then, when another user sees a trusted person speak on a topic, they get an indication of who trusts the speaker.
Made up example of a user seeing a transitive trust marker. I have no idea who JZ trusts.
The end goal would be that individuals can make better decisions in the moment – even when they’re faced with the ugly choice of ignoring seemingly urgent information or retweeting as-yet unsubstantiated claims. It gives users a tool with which to act on the frequent admonition to “consider the source”.
Of course, if this lives solely as a browser extension, it reaches only a narrow audience. Only those interested in the trust layer extension would ever see an indication, and that’s hardly enough to cause disinformation “herd immunity”. Ideally, this would be adopted as a platform feature. If that came to pass, making this project obsolete, I’d be thrilled.