In brief, trust.txt is a framework, developed by a non-profit organization JournalList.net, which is aimed at fostering trust towards online publishers, particularly from the side of platforms, like Google and Facebook, and digital advertisers.
What exactly is trust.txt?
From a technical perspective, trust.txt is a machine-readable text file, available for referencing in the root folder of a publisher’s website, which may include the following information:
- industry organizations and media agencies they have existing relationships with,
- URL ownership info,
- details on their verified pages on social media,
- contact information.
The framework is open-source, and the implementation is free for publishers, according to trust.txt founders. However, the membership in the JournalList.net itself is not.
Benefits of trust.txt
As the framework developers explain, trust.txt is what can provide news publishers with more actionable tools to demonstrate their legitimacy and trustworthiness, in a publicly accessible, and more importantly, machine-readable form, to search engines and would-be Demand partners.
From a wider perspective, the market-wide implementation of trust.txt by reputable news publishers may also help mitigate the amount of disinformation and misinformation, spread across the Web.
Potential Issues with trust.txt
As with other industry initiatives, like (app)ads.txt or sellers.json, trust.txt can effectively become a new standard for news publishers/publishing houses, when and only the specification grows widely-adopted, specifically by the industry leaders.
In this respect, the endorsement of the initiative by Digital Content Next (DCN) should help accelerate the adoption pace, but it’s too soon to tell.
More importantly, the framework isn’t 100% fraud-proof, which means “bad actors” may potentially add false information to their /trust.txt.
Check out a detailed guide to trust.txt implementation on the AdPlayer.Pro blog.