Social media feeds are positively choked with fake news sources from all sides, leaving readers and viewers distrustful and confused. Now, a new app from the Microsoft Edge browser called NewsGuard claims to weed out the false news sources.
The app will use color coding, with “red” indicating a high probability of being a false news source and “green” being a safe site. The app will come pre-installed in its browser.
Fake news as a recognized term has only been around for a few years, but the concept of fake news predates the term by centuries. It has been known by the term “yellow journalism,” and has always involved spreading propaganda and self-serving information to the masses. In fact, yellow news has been credited with getting the US involved with the Spanish-American War.
The NewsGuard App
NewsGuard, according to Microsoft, isn’t intended to be a way to censor news or infringe on free speech. The intention is to give readers the information they need to properly understand the reliability of what they are reading and help them decide if they should share the news source on social media, per Microsoft’s corporate vice president of security and trust, Tom Burt.
The app itself isn’t new, but it was something that had to be manually downloaded and installed by its users. It allows flexibility for its users to set up their own filters while maintaining its warning color system. The app currently only works for US and large international news sources and sites.
Wall Street Journalist and publisher Gordon Crovitz is now a CEO of NewsGuard. He explains, “We’re delighted to be able to reach millions of people through Microsoft Edge for mobile, giving news consumers more information about the sources of news they see online based on basic journalistic criteria of credibility and transparency.”
NewsGuard uses experienced journalists to vet companies and their news articles. They work with The Information founder, Jessica Lessin, General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, and other highly seasoned professionals. The news sources are broken down and labeled according to their content, credibility, ownership, and sources of financing.
A few examples of how various cites would be labeled include:
RT: This Russian news site is a well-known source of Russian propaganda. NewsGuard will label this as “proceed with caution.”
The Daily Mail: This is a British news source, and NewsGuard warns its readers that it has had to pay damages for false reporting on several high-profile stories.
The New York Times: This is an American news source that is well known for having influence on public debate and will be labeled this way by NewsGuard.
This tool is one of the first of its kind, but with the bombardment of fake news all over social media, it’s likely that NewsGuard will be the prototype for many more.