We are on the cusp of a "photoshop" moment in our ability to produce convincing synthetic audio and video content, adding a new dimension to the existing problem of text- and image-based “fake news”. Social media and the web and will be the primary vector for the spread of this disinformation, and soon web archives will be “weaponized” to 1) alter existing trustworthy sources, and 2) obfuscate the provenance of untrustworthy sources. As web archives increasingly become a source of evidence in political and cultural discourse, they will attract the attention of those who would seek to alter the historical record. We review the broader context of threats and opportunities, and then present one solution the Web Science and Digital Libraries group at Old Dominion University is working on to authenticate the integrity of web archives.
Professor Michael Nelson joined the Computer Science department at Old Dominion University in 2002. He worked at NASA Langley Research Center from 1991-2002. Through a NASA fellowship, he spent the 2000-2001 academic year at the School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is active in the Open Archives community and is an editor of the OAI-PMH, OAI-ORE, Memento, and ResourceSync specifications. Dr. Nelson has developed many digital libraries, including the NASA Technical Report Server. In 2007 he received an NSF CAREER award. His research interests include web science, repository-object interaction, and digital preservation.