Going forward, regular users of Microsoft's Edge mobile browser for iOS can opt to receive warnings when they visit untrustworthy news sites.
The company's browser is integrating NewsGuard, a green-red rating system founded by journalists Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz that evaluates websites using a set of criteria, including the use of deceptive headlines, fake news history, and financial and ownership transparency.
NewsGuard also provides "Nutrition Label" write-ups of more than 2,000 news and information sites that account for 96 percent of online engagement in the U.S. in English.
NewsGuard has existed for some time as an optional privacy extension for Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Edge desktop browsers, but Microsoft's decision to integrate it into its mobile browser as an optional setting signals a growing concern for preventing users' exposure to purveyors of false or misleading news or disinformation online. A Microsoft spokesperson said:
"Microsoft is partnering with NewsGuard to offer the NewsGuard browser extension on Microsoft Edge, and a feature in Microsoft Edge mobile apps for iOS and Android to help our customers evaluate news sources. Across both the browser and the apps, NewsGuard is optional and customers need to take action if they want to use the feature."
As an example of NewsGuard's yardstick for untrustworthiness, The Guardian reports the Edge mobile is now warning users that the Daily Mail's website, Mail Online, "generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability" and "has been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases." Visitors to Russia's state-sponsored RT News website receive a similar warning.
Responding to NewsGuard's warning, a Daily Mail spokesperson provided MacRumors with the following statement:
"We have only very recently become aware of the NewsGuard start-up and are in discussions with them to have this egregiously erroneous classification resolved as soon as possible."
NewsGuard's Steven Brill told The Guardian it takes full responsibility for its ratings. "They can blame us. And we're happy to be blamed," he said. "Unlike the platforms we're happy to be accountable. We want people to game our system. We are totally transparent. We are not an algorithm."
(Via The Verge.)