|Developer(s)||NewsGuard Technologies, Inc.|
|Initial release||March 2018|
Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari:
4.1.1 (Edge) / April 5, 2022
NewsGuard is a rating system for news and information websites. It is accessible via browser extensions and mobile apps. NewsGuard Technologies Inc., the company behind the tool, also provides services such as misinformation tracking and brand safety for advertisers, search engines, social media platforms, cybersecurity firms, and government agencies.
NewsGuard Technologies was founded in 2018 by Steven Brill and L. Gordon Crovitz, who serve as co-CEOs. Investors include the Knight Foundation, Publicis, and former Reuters executive of Tom Glocer.
In April 2019, the co-founders of NewsGuard announced that they had entered talks with British internet service providers to incorporate their credibility scoring system into consumer internet packages. Under the plans, a user would see a warning message before visiting a misleading site without needing to have the NewsGuard extension installed. Users would also have the ability to disable the feature.
In January 2020, NewsGuard began notifying users that it would become a paid, member-supported browser extension in early 2020, while remaining free for libraries and schools. Early adopters would get a 33% discount on the price, paying $1.95/month (USD) or £1.95/month (UK). They plan to roll out new premium features, including a reliability score, and offer new mobile apps for Android and iOS.
NewsGuard is based in New York City. Its advisors include former officials such as Tom Ridge, former homeland security secretary, Richard Stengel, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, Michael Hayden, former CIA director general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former NATO chief, as well as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Products and services
As of 2019, the company employed 35 journalists to review over 2,000 news sites. Ratings are broken down in terms of reliability, trustworthiness, and financial conflict of interest. This and additional information is then displayed in the form of a "Nutrition Label" by the NewsGuard browser extension whenever a user visits a news site. Sites that pass are shown with a green icon next to their name. Those with low scores are shown with a red icon. Research has shown that readers who see the green icon find the corresponding news site more accurate and trustworthy compared to those who see no icon or a red icon.
Brill positions the extension as an alternative to government regulation and automated algorithms, such as those used by Facebook. NewsGuard attempts to advise sites that it labels as unreliable on how to come into compliance with its rating criteria.
NewsGuard operates a consumer-facing browser extension and mobile apps for iOS and Android. Supported browsers for the browser extension include Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Safari. It is included by default in the mobile version of Edge, though users must enable it.
Business model and reach
For revenue, NewsGuard Technologies licenses their ratings. Clients include technology companies and the advertising industry, who view the ratings as a way to protect clients against advertising on sites that could harm their brand. It also contracts with the United States Department of Defense.
As of January 2021, NewsGuard says it has rated more than 6,000 news sites that account for 95% of online engagement with news in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany and Italy.
Ratings and reception
NewsGuard approved sites include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and BuzzFeed. Sites labeled as unreliable include InfoWars, the Daily Kos, Sputnik, RT, WikiLeaks, and Fox News. NewsGuard's founders cautioned that its "Nutrition Label" should not be treated as an endorsement equivalent to the nutrition facts label from the Food and Drug Administration.
Sites that had previously ignored the extension, such as MailOnline, objected to being listed as unreliable. The decision to list MailOnline as unreliable was reversed, and NewsGuard admitted they were wrong on some counts.
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