NewsGuard fights fake news with "traffic light"

Since the end of January Microsoft’s mobile browser, “Edge,” has been rating U.S.-based news websites’ “trustworthiness” with a red or green “traffic light” which appears next to news links in search results and social media feeds. Plug-ins for other browsers are available, and users can opt out of the feature in Edge.

The developer, American startup NewsGuard Technologies, is targeting the education sector in the U.S. and abroad and has partnered with public library systems, middle and secondary schools, universities, and other educational organizations. In an interview by Gizmodo, NewsGuard said “We’re in discussions with all of the major tech and platform companies about ways to integrate NewsGuard into their search results, social media news feeds, and browsers.” These partners will decide whether to make the technology a default feature in their platforms.

Co-CEO Steven Brill is also targeting European libraries and recently gave a presentation at the EU conference “Countering online disinformation“. By the end of April the ratings should also be available in the UK, Italy, France, and Germany.

According to its homepage the overall purpose of NewsGuard is to “fight false news, misinformation, and disinformation”, but NewsGuard is not concerned with fact-checking.

It is also not algorithm-based and claims that its team of journalists manually evaluates the overall “trustworthiness” of each site, and is focused on the specific content of any one article.

NewsGuard claims its “team of trained journalists and experienced editors” manually evaluates the overall trustworthiness of a site “based on nine journalistic criteria“.

Reuters reports that 35 NewsGuard journalists have evaluated 2.200 of 7.500 targeted news sites. The company also offers teaching material in partnership with Microsoft’s “News Literacy Partnership Program”, and they participate in webinars.

The media response is mixed. Most mainstream media outlets have responded neutrally or positively, by alternative media are strongly critical. One headline, published by several alternative news sites, protested,”NewsGuard launching “War on Alternative Media”. Whitney Webb of MintPress News found NewGuard’s Advisory Board to indicate a conflict of interest in the mission of the platform, that “CIA and NSA directors, Silicon Valley Giants, and massive PR firms working for some of the most controversial governments and corporations in the world. . . [betray] the fact that it is not actually seeking to ‘restore trust and accountability’ in journalism”.

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Some possible issues – add yours:

Who initiated NG, what was the impetus?

How is NG being financed?

Which European Library Systems have been contacted?

Which are the rating criteria? Are there comparable criteria catalogues by other institutions?

Do the criteria, do the site descriptions meet crucial issues in respect of fake news?

Is NG biased? What about rating pluralism within search result pages?

How can false news be prevented by this means? What does NewsGuard itself say to this issue?

What are the libraries saying? Which libraries participate, which refuse to?

What are the schools saying? Which schools participate, which refuse to?

        Why did the Daily Mail get re-rated?

Media Bias Fact Check has been doing similar for over 3 years. Compare and contrast the differences between the two sources? Online available:
– more?


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Sources for further writing or reading

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Original sources

Microsoft announcing a new partnership with NewsGuard Technologies…/defending-against-disinformation-in-partnership-with-newsguard/

NewsGuard’s Online Source Rating Tool: User Experience. A Gallup study supported by the Knight Foundation and NewsGuard…/Gallup-NewsGuards-Online-Source-Rating-Tool-User-Experience-1.pdf

National Media Sources

Don’t trust Daily Mail website, Microsoft browser warns users

Jason Kucsma, Toledo Public Library

Eoin O’Carroll: Can old-fashioned journalism combat fake news?

Lorenzo Arvanitis: Yale alums combat “fake news” with startup

Chris Fox: Mail Online web browser warning reversed

Whitney Webb: Newsguard Turns to EU to Push Controversial Ratings System on Tech Companies, Smears MintPress as “Secretly Supported” by Russia

NewsGuard Wants to Fight Fake News With Humans, Not Algorithms

International Media Sources

Businsess Insider India: Ratings of 29 favourate news sites: screenshots….cms

Other Sources

American Library Association (ALA): Labeling and rating systems. An interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights

Trevor Timm: Wall Street Journal Columnist Repeatedly Gets His Facts Wrong About NSA Surveillance. In: EFF. Concerns L. Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard, Co-CEO…/wall-street-journal-columnist-gordon-crovitz-repeatedly-gets-his-facts-wrong-about

Jennifer Dixey, Librarian

Joshua Benton: NewsGuard considers Fox News a healthy part of your news diet
Some would agree! Others would disagree! – (Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard)

Issues to be searched for

Add an issue, add what you unsuccessfully searched or search with a telling zero result


  • Is there a list of the NewsGuard rated news sites?
  • The the internal search engines of the websites of:
    White House, U.S. Congress, NYPL. LoC; IFLA; German government, Bundestag, Library Portal, BID, DBV; EU, EU Parliament,  EBLIDA,
    yielded no results for “newsguard” – seemingly it was no topic? (February 10 resp. 24, 2019)
  • German Parliamentary Documentation, also: no results for “newsguard” (February 10, 2019)

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