Today, NewsGuard launches in the UK after a successful year stateside. A tool aiming to combat misinformation and disinformation online using “human intelligence” it provides ratings and nutrition labels for news and information websites to help users determine the site’s credibility.
NewsGuard’s journalists will assess and rate news and information websites against nine criteria of journalistic practice, even offering those websites a chance to comment and change their practices to move from a ‘red’ to a ‘green’ rating. Something, they argue, an algorithm couldn’t and wouldn’t do.
But their emphasis on human intelligence is not to say that data has no place in their workings. In order to be able to tackle the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation online NewsGuard also analyses data to identify emerging news trends so that their “SWAT team of journalists” as they describe them, can assess new websites as they come into existence.
What is particularly interesting about this model is not only its use of data and expert human intelligence, but also their emphasis on increasing media literacy and critical thinking. The co-founders were keen to stress at the launch in London this morning, that their aim was not to encourage censorship or blocking but instead provide the general public with more information about the material they are consuming online so that the user is empowered to make informed choices.
With 93% of respondents to a YouGov survey saying that they thought false and misleading information on the internet is a problem, there is clearly space for a tool to empower users to assess the credibility of the information available online. The approach taken by NewsGuard which combines intelligent use of data, expert human analysis and promotion of critical thinking and media literacy is something techUK endorses wholeheartedly.
In the run up to the local elections, European parliamentary elections and who knows perhaps even a General Election, tools like this will help ensure a well informed debate. You can find out more about how NewsGuard works and download the tool here.