07:27 AM

Newspaper Paywalls Could Be Used To Spread Misinformation...

The problem with newspaper paywalls is that they can increase misinformation.

For example, if I write an article that says the Wall Street Journal reported accounting discrepancies at publicly traded ACME Corp, and provide a link to WSJ.com but you don't have a subscription -- that means you cannot verify the story.

Investors might sell shares in ACME Corp. and I could profit if I held a short position on the stock.

Granted, this is an extreme example but it is possible. And there are many other variations of this scheme that would enable misinformation to be circulated because of newspaper paywalls.

Trusted sources but unverifiable...

Information that comes from large media brands is inherently trusted "...as seen on Oprah!" But those media brands are trying to figure out their online business models and that means paywalls.

Paywalls are going up at New York Times, at News Corp titles, and at many other publications.

The New York Times has a solution to the misinformation problem. It said that if a reader comes through a link on a blog post, the story will be freely available.

That's a great solution to the verification of a story and it would make it very difficult for someone to use NYT stories for nefarious purposes.

But, there is a huge problem with that approach -- it shatters its paywall.

I could build a shadow blog site and offer free access to all NYTimes stories for free, for anyone that comes through my site. [A Massive Hole in New York Times' Paywall Plan]

The NYTimes will have to plug that hole and that means we're back to square one: newspaper paywalls could be used to spread misinformation.

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Please see:

Adtribution Might Be A Solution For Murdoch, A.P, Et Al, Versus The News Aggregators And Bloggers - SVW

Newspapers: 25 things to try before turning off the lights | Tom Foremski: IMHO | ZDNet.com

Virtual cash could save newspapers | Tom Foremski: IMHO | ZDNet.com