Are NewsGuard Ratings of Websites the Cure for Online ‘Fake…


In an era of what President Donald Trump and others have decried as “fake news,” an internet browser extension offers a possible solution for determining the credibility of the content of news websites and search engine results.

A new Gallup study, released Jan. 9, of news consumers’ views found support for the concept of access to the sort of information about those sites that NewsGuard aims to provide.

Among survey respondents using NewsGuard, Gallup found that 89 percent of users of social media sites and 83 percent overall want social media sites and search engines to incorporate NewsGuard’s ratings and reviews into their news feeds and search results.

The browser extension grades online news sources based on research and content analysis performed by what it calls “trained journalists” applying criteria “in an apolitical and fully transparent manner.”

News sources’ grades are based on how closely they hew to nine journalistic standards of credibility and transparency, which are displayed in what NewsGuard calls “nutrition labels” given to the sites.

The Gallup survey found that 90 percent of respondents who downloaded and used the free tool trusted the ratings more because they are done by “trained analysts with varied backgrounds.”

The browser extension for Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari and used by respondents “displayed NewsGuard ratings and nutrition labels in social media such as Facebook and Twitter, in search results from Google and Bing, in news aggregators such as MSN and in products such as LinkedIn,” Gallup wrote.

The criteria for rating news websites include sourcing, transparency, and accurate information. Based on these and other factors, an organization will receive a “green” or “red” rating, depending on whether a website “is trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods or propaganda,” according to NewsGuard.

Among NewsGuard’s verified and trusted news sources is The Daily Signal, which has received a “green” rating on all eight relevant criteria, and is described as a news outlet that “generally maintains basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”

Ratings help readers distinguish which sources can be trusted and which can’t. The Gallup survey found that 63 percent of respondents “would be less likely to share news stories from red-rated websites,” and 56 percent “would be more likely to share news from green-rated websites.”

“We hoped when we launched NewsGuard that people would welcome access to more information about news websites,” said co-CEO Steven Brill, a lawyer and media entrepreneur who previously founded the American Lawyer magazine and the Court TV cable channel. “We are especially pleased to see the high level of trust respondents to the survey have in NewsGuard.”

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