In recent weeks, NewsGuard, the internet news watchdog service, has been escalating its battle against misinformation by opening a Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center and offering its service for free to all internet users until July 1.
NewsGuard is a desktop browser extension that displays credibility and transparency content scoring and is available by subscription. It launched in August 2018 and typically costs $2.95 per month for a desktop user.
Until recently, only Microsoft Edge mobile device users on iOS and Android had unlimited free access to the service. Last week, the company entered a partnership with Turnitin, and it will provide free access to the credibility and transparency scores to over 35 million students and teachers that use its service.
But, as of May 13, all users of Microsoft Edge, be it on mobile or desktop versions of the browser, have unlimited use of NewsGuard, for free — provided that the extension is used on that browser and is downloaded in Microsoft’s Edge store.
Thousands of sites rated in NewsGuard’s database are evaluated on a multi-point system for both credibility and transparency. Websites considered to be reliable sources of information are labeled with green checks. These clickable green checkmarks appear in the browser near the URL field and are displayed in-line with web content, such as within Facebook and even on Google News and other major news aggregators.
Websites evaluated by NewsGuard have a full “nutrition label,” which can be viewed and contain additional information about the news source and links to information about the journalists who authored and edited the entry.
“We are delighted to be able to expand our relationship with Microsoft, which is a leader among companies in taking steps to address the unforeseen, unintended consequences of new technologies,” said NewsGuard co-CEO, Gordon Crovitz. “The internet has empowered people around the world with unprecedented access to information, but the internet has also made it easier than ever for misinformation to spread, including health care hoaxes about COVID-19.”
Under the new agreement, Microsoft will continue to sponsor NewsGuard’s news literacy program, through more than 700 libraries provide NewsGuard to their more than seven million patrons in the US, UK, France, Germany, and Italy — and it will expand the program into new countries, including Australia and Canada, which NewsGuard plans to serve later this year.
“Access to tools like NewsGuard is critical in arming people with the information they need to evaluate the content they’re seeing online and help them make informed decisions,” said Tom Burt, corporate vice president of Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft. “Defending against disinformation campaigns is a key focus of our Defending Democracy Program. NewsGuard’s work has become especially relevant because of its trailblazing efforts to root out online hoaxes related to health and healthcare issues, including those concerning Covid-19. We’re proud of our role in making it available.”
Also, under the agreement, all other Microsoft departments are now able to use NewsGuard ratings and labels in their products and services. Projects already underway include the company’s Defending Democracy Program, and teams within Microsoft Research are working on misinformation, disinformation, and health care hoaxes.
In addition to free, unrestricted use of NewsGuard for all of Edge’s userbase, Microsoft’s Bing search engine will now have access to a real-time feed of NewsGuard data. That means you are likely to see NewsGuard ratings all over Microsoft’s properties shortly.