Microsoft in a bid to tackle the spread of fake news has incorporated NewsGuard into its browser as a default extension in Edge browser for Android and iOS platforms.
NewsGuard is a browser extension which labels news sources with either green or red icon, to indicate their trustworthiness and also displays if there is any history of the sources ever engaging in perceived fake news stories, developed by NewsGuard Technologies.
The browser extension is supported by Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Safari, and available in their respective extensions collection, but now Microsoft has made it a default in the mobile version of Edge, albeit it is required to be activated for it to work.
While NewsGuard Technologies employ professional journalists to score news websites based on their reliability and general trustworthiness, with sites that score 60 out of 100 points on the provided nine criteria getting a green icon attached to their name, and the ones that score below per displaying a red icon.
Optionally, the users are provided with more information, including how sites have fared in each of the nine criterion, and also highlighted are conflicts of interest, such as sites that do not disclose their finance by lobbying groups.
The news site ranking extension is run by establishment media figures along with former U.S. presidents: Clinton, Obama and Bush administration members.
NewsGuard has been criticized as been partisan with its fighting of “fake news” and some perceived opponents have had their accurate publications tagged as untrustworthy, with the recent incidence of the Drudge Report been labeled as fake news even though it was the first to break the news that the U.S. President had re-open the government.
Albeit, the Drudge Report has primarily been a news link aggregating site, but it also breaks news with quite remarkable accuracy.
Another instance, the Guardian Mail Online had been tagged with a “red” label by NewsGuard, and given a reliability score of 3 out of the 9 criterion, and the warning: “Proceed with caution: This website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability” appearing alongside every link to the Mail Online both on Google search, Facebook and Twitter feeds, and even on the Mail’s homepage.
On the contrary, many of the sites ranked as “trustworthy” by NewsGuard has spent their past few days smearing the names of the students of Covington Catholic High School, such as the the New York Times, the Washington Post and many others condemning the students for their actions, but later, a new version of events (video evidence) was revealed that absolve the students.
Microsoft's deal to incorporate NewsGuard into Edge illustrates that even as these ratings aren't foolproof, the integration may likely shift the news landscape drastically, as Edge holds a tangible share of the mobile-browser market.
But the pressing question now is whether the partnerships will meaningfully address the scourge of misinformation plaguing the online platforms or just serve as another public relations window dressing at most.