Another day, another effort to combat ‘fake news’ online. This time it’s NewsGuard, a new app claiming to help defend against “disinformation” by adding ‘trust rankings’ to news websites. But can the app itself be trusted?
Color-coded system with (potentially) no escape
NewsGuard rates the news using a color-coded ranking system designed and monitored by a “SWAT team” of analysts who it claims have no “political axes to grind.” So far, the app has rated more than 2,000 popular news websites, but plans to eventually provide ratings for the 7,500 most-read news and information sites in the US, before ultimately going global.
The app uses “9 criteria” to determine whether a particular site is rated green, yellow or red. To attain a green rating, a site must gather and present information “responsibly,” must not publish “false content,” and must clarify and correct errors. Avoiding “misleading headlines” and disclosing “ownership and financing” can also help secure a green rating, or “nutrition label” as NewsGuard refers to its assessments.
Partnering with Microsoft, NewsGuard is trying to have its rankings installed by default in US public school and university libraries, as well as on smartphones and computers. Hawaii is the first US state to have installed NewsGuard on its public library computers.
NewsGuard claims on its website that it “will be available on mobile devices when the digital platforms such as social media sites and search engines or mobile operating systems add our ratings and Nutrition Labels directly.” In other words, plans are afoot to get NewsGuard integrated into social media sites like Facebook and Twitter directly, rather than NewsGuard remaining a downloadable app that people can choose to use or not.
But is it really that simple?
The NewsGuard app has a seemingly benign goal; to “restore trust and accountability” in journalism. Sounds good, doesn’t it? A closer look at the project, however, reveals that NewsGuard’s definition of “unreliable” news, along with its dodgy investors, advisors, and corporate partners are highly questionable.
An in-depth report by MintPress claimed that NewsGuard is “funded by and deeply connected to” the US government while trying to retain a public image of being a dispassionate and unbiased arbiter of truth and reliability in the media. Contacted by RT, NewsGuard said that it has received “no” government funding. Even a cursory look at its leadership, however, reveals former US government officials – including the chief of both NSA and CIA.
Read more HERE