HealthGuard FAQ

Learn more about HealthGuard with answers to these Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about HealthGuard? We have answers. Browse through the list of Frequently Asked Questions below.

Have a question we haven’t answered yet? Submit it here.

  1. What is HealthGuard?
  2. What is a browser extension?
  3. On which browsers does HealthGuard work?
  4. How do I install HealthGuard in my browser?
  5. How do I use the HealthGuard browser extension?
  6. How does HealthGuard determine which information sources are credible?
  7. Where will I see icons?
  8. Why don’t I see a HealthGuard icon in my extensions tray?
  9. Does HealthGuard work on a mobile device?
  10. Why does HealthGuard’s browser extension ask for permission to read and modify web page contents?
  11. Does HealthGuard collect, store, or share data about its users?
  12. Who is behind HealthGuard?
  13. Why is HealthGuard free, and how does HealthGuard make money?
  14. Will I have to pay for HealthGuard eventually?
  15. How do I uninstall HealthGuard?
  16. How do I get HealthGuard icons to show up when browsing in Private/Incognito windows?
  17. How do I change the display language for HealthGuard?
  18. What is the difference between HealthGuard and NewsGuard?
  19. Can I use HealthGuard if I already use NewsGuard?
  20. What does it mean if I see a site with no icon next to it?
  21. How does HealthGuard choose which sites to rate?
  22. How do I suggest a website to be rated by HealthGuard?
  23. What do I do if I disagree with a rating?
  24. Can I use HealthGuard for commercial purposes?
  25. Can I use HealthGuard for academic research?
  26. Can I use HealthGuard for educational purposes (at my school or library)?
  27. How can my company or institution access HealthGuard’s ratings data?


What is HealthGuard?

HealthGuard is a tool that shows you trust ratings for over 3,000 health news and information websites as you browse the internet. It is installed as a browser extension that works within your internet browser as you search for health information online.

HealthGuard was created by the team of journalists at NewsGuard who assess the credibility and transparency of news and information websites based on nine journalistic criteria, such as whether the site repeatedly publishes false content, whether it discloses who owns and finances it, and whether it corrects factual errors when they occur. Based on the nine criteria, each site gets an overall rating of green (generally trustworthy) or red (generally not trustworthy), a trust score of 0-100 points, and a detailed “Nutrition Label” explaining who is behind the site, why it received its rating and score, and specific examples of any trust issues our team found.

When you install the HealthGuard browser extension in your browser, HealthGuard will insert red and green icons next to links on search engines like Google or Bing and on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Green icons indicate generally trustworthy sources, and red icons indicate generally untrustworthy sources. Satire sites and platforms are noted with orange and grey icons, respectively.

If you hover your mouse over a HealthGuard icon, you’ll see a brief summary of the site’s HealthGuard rating. If you click “See the Full Nutrition Label,” you’ll be taken to a page with more detail explaining the rating.

Watch this short video to see HealthGuard in action.



What is a browser extension?

A browser extension is an application that is installed within your internet browser to add new functionality to the browser.

There are thousands of browser extensions that operate within the top internet browsers—for example, some common browser extensions help users block pop-up ads on web pages, personalize the look and feel of their browser, or track to-do lists across different computers.

Each browser has its own system for distributing and installing browser extensions for users.



On which browsers does HealthGuard work?

HealthGuard works on the most recent versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, and Mozilla Firefox desktop browsers. HealthGuard does not operate on browsers that are no longer supported by the companies that offer them, such as Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge Legacy, or older versions of Safari. HealthGuard is also not currently available for mobile browsers on mobile phones or tablet devices.



How do I install HealthGuard in my browser?

To install HealthGuard in your browser, follow the following steps:

Click the “Get HealthGuard” button below.

If you use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge: Click the blue button labeled “Add to Browser” or “Get”, then click “Add Extension” when prompted.

If you use Apple Safari: Click the “Get” button at the top right. Once HealthGuard is installed, the button will change to say, “Open.” Click the “Open” button and follow the instructions in the dialog box that appears.

When you install HealthGuard on Safari, you will see a prompt with instructions to activate the extension within Safari:

Click “Open Safari Extensions Preferences,” then click the box next to HealthGuard in your extensions list. This will fully activate the browser extension.



How do I use the HealthGuard browser extension?

As you browse the internet, look for HealthGuard’s red and green icons to appear next to links on search engines or social media sites you use.

Example: HealthGuard’s green shield icons next to search engine results.

Hover your mouse over a HealthGuard icon to see a brief summary of the site’s rating:

Click “See the full Nutrition Label” to see a more detailed explanation of the site’s rating.



Where will I see HealthGuard icons?

HealthGuard icons appear next to links on the following platforms and search engines: Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, MSN, Yahoo News, Ecosia, Qwant, and DuckDuckGo.

If you visit a website directly, you should also see a HealthGuard icon in your extensions tray to the right of your address bar on most browsers.



Why don’t I see a HealthGuard icon in my extensions tray?

Google Chrome recently updated the way browser extensions are displayed to make them less visible in some cases. To fix this, click the puzzle piece icon to the right of your address bar, find HealthGuard in the list, and click the pushpin icon next to HealthGuard. This will make the HealthGuard icon appear more prominently, to the right of your address bar.

On Apple Safari, if you do not see the HealthGuard icon, you may need to activate HealthGuard in your browser. To fix this, open Safari’s Extension Preferences and enable HealthGuard.



How does HealthGuard determine which information sources are credible?

The journalists at NewsGuard, the company that operates HealthGuard, assess health news and information sites based on nine journalistic criteria.

The rating process is designed to ensure our nine journalistic criteria are applied fairly and accurately to all sites, regardless of the site’s topic, tone, or political leaning if any. Steps include:

  1. A trained journalist assesses the contents of the site against nine journalistic criteria. Our analysts are trained journalists who conduct reporting to determine relevant details of the website’s ownership, financing, credibility, and transparency practices.
  2. The analyst drafts a written “Nutrition Label” for the site based on their reporting. Nutrition labels consist of a grid showing the site’s performance on each of the nine criteria and a written explanation of the content on the site, who’s behind it, and why it received its rating.
  3. We call the website for comment. If an analyst believes a site may fail one or more of the nine criteria, the analyst will contact the website to attempt to seek comment before publishing the rating. If a representative for the website provides a comment, that comment is included in the written assessment of the site to provide users with the website’s perspective.
  4. The rating is reviewed and fact-checked by experienced editors. Multiple senior editors review every Nutrition Label prior to publication to ensure that the rating is as fair and accurate as possible.
  5. The site receives a red or green rating based on the nine journalistic criteria. The site’s red or green rating is determined solely based on the nine criteria.
  6. We update Nutrition Labels periodically. Our team periodically updates its rating of each site. If a site changes its practices, its performance on one or more of the nine criteria may change. Hundreds of websites have improved their transparency or credibility practices as a result of our rating process.
  7. We practice accountability and show our work. Each Nutrition Label contains the names of the writer and editors who worked on the rating. The backgrounds of the analysts and editors named, as well as those of the supervising editors, can be found by clicking on their names or going to the Our Team page of this website. If a website disagrees with our rating for its site, it can write a response or complaint using our contact page. Any such complaints will be published on our website here and linked from the site’s Nutrition Label.


Does HealthGuard work on mobile devices?

HealthGuard works on desktop and laptop computer browsers, but not on mobile devices. Most mobile browsers do not allow for browser extensions.



Why does HealthGuard’s browser extension ask for permission to read and modify web page contents?

When you install HealthGuard, you will see a prompt from your browser informing you that HealthGuard can read and change data on web pages you visit. For example:

This permission is required because HealthGuard’s software reads the HTML code of certain pages—such as Google and Bing search results, Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds, Reddit pages—and looks for links to news websites.

If HealthGuard has rated a site linked on those pages, the extension inserts a red or green shield icon next to the link, indicating HealthGuard’s rating for the site.

In order to do this, HealthGuard’s extension must have the ability to read and modify web pages. Importantly, this is the only purpose for which we use this permission. As stated in our privacy policy:

NewsGuard does not collect or store this information or any information about the websites you visit. The servers and load balancers that receive this information do not store or transmit any logs of this traffic.

NewsGuard cannot and does not use data about the websites you visit for any purpose other than to serve its ratings and nutrition labels to you as you use the browser extension.

Learn more about how HealthGuard protects your privacy.



Does HealthGuard collect, store, or share data about its users?

HealthGuard does not collect any personally identifiable information about users, nor does it sell or share any data about its users with any third party. When a user installs HealthGuard’s browser extension, HealthGuard is only able to collect anonymous usage information through the use of Google Analytics.

However, HealthGuard does not store any information—even anonymous information—about what websites users have visited or their browsing history. When a user visits a website with HealthGuard’s extension installed, the browser extension sends the website domain to HealthGuard’s servers to check whether a rating and nutrition label exists for that site and, if one does, to display that rating and nutrition label in the user’s browser. However, HealthGuard does not collect or store this information or any information about the websites the user has visited. The servers and load balancers that receive this information do not store or transmit any logs of this traffic.

HealthGuard cannot and does not use data about the websites users visit for any purpose other than to serve its ratings and nutrition labels to users.

Learn more about our privacy policy.



Who is behind HealthGuard?

NewsGuard, the company that operates HealthGuard, was launched by a team of experienced journalists, including the former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, the founder of The American Lawyer and CourtTV, and former top editors at Reuters, the Associated Press, and The Chicago Tribune.

NewsGuard’s team includes a wide range of journalists and editors from diverse journalistic backgrounds. Learn more about NewsGuard’s team.

NewsGuard’s team believes in transparency and accountability, so in addition to our team, all of our investors and advisors are disclosed prominently on our website.



Why is HealthGuard free, and how does HealthGuard make money?

HealthGuard is free through July 1, 2021 thanks to the support of several companies and nonprofit organizations who have sponsored free access to help combat misinformation about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about our sponsors here.



Will I have to pay for HealthGuard eventually?

HealthGuard is free to all users through our sponsored VaxFacts campaign through July 1, 2021. After July 1, 2021, you may choose to sign up for a subscription to HealthGuard or may get it free through certain health institutions and hospital systems.

However, any decision to subscribe after July 1, 2021 will be entirely up to you. We will not automatically enroll you in a subscription, nor will we send you marketing emails trying to get you to purchase a subscription.

You do not need to provide any payment information or contact information to use HealthGuard during this period of free access, and there are no strings attached whatsoever.



How do I uninstall HealthGuard

HealthGuard is easy to uninstall. Instructions differ slightly for each browser:

Google Chrome:

  • In your browser’s address bar, navigate to: chrome://extensions
  • Find HealthGuard in the list of extensions.
  • Click “Remove,” and a box will come up asking you to confirm. Click “Remove” again.

Mozilla Firefox:

  • In your browser’s address bar, navigate to: about:addons
  • Click “Extensions” in the menu on the left side of the screen.
  • Find HealthGuard in the list of extensions. Click the three dot icon next to HealthGuard.
  • Click “Remove,” and a box will come up asking you to confirm. Click “Remove” again.

Microsoft Edge

  • In your browser’s address bar, navigate to: edge://extensions
  • Find HealthGuard in the list of extensions.
  • Click “Remove,” and a box will come up asking you to confirm. Click “Remove” again.

Apple Safari

  • Open a Finder window and navigate to Applications.
  • Find HealthGuard in your applications folder and drag it to your trash.


How do I get HealthGuard icons to show up when browsing in Private/Incognito windows?

Go into your extension settings by right clicking or Ctrl+clicking on the HealthGuard icon that appears in the upper-right corner of your browser, to the right of the URL bar, and selecting “Manage extensions.” Locate the relevant setting for allowing HealthGuard to work in incognito mode, private mode, or InPrivate mode (depending on the browser you use), and select the box or click “on.”



How do I change the display language for HealthGuard?

HealthGuard is available in English, French, German, and Italian. The display language for your extension is based on your browser’s language settings (for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge users) or your computer’s language settings (for Safari users). To change the display language for the HealthGuard extension, you will need to change the language settings in your browser or computer.



What is the difference between HealthGuard and NewsGuard?

NewsGuard and HealthGuard are both browser extensions offered by the same company, NewsGuard Technologies, Inc.

The NewsGuard browser extension works similarly to the HealthGuard extension. However, while HealthGuard includes ratings for websites focused on health and medical information, NewsGuard provides ratings for a wide range of news and information sites, including sites focused on general news, politics, and other categories. NewsGuard also includes mobile apps for iOS and Android.



Can I use HealthGuard if I already use NewsGuard?

Yes, you can use both browser extensions at the same time. However, there is no need to do so: All websites included in HealthGuard are already included in the NewsGuard browser extension. Think of HealthGuard as a subset of NewsGuard that only includes the websites with a health or medical focus.



What does it mean if I see a site with no icon next to it?

If a site has no rating icon next to it, it means the site is not rated by HealthGuard yet. This does not mean that the site is unreliable, nor does it mean that the site is reliable. It simply means that the team behind HealthGuard has not yet chosen to rate it.



How does HealthGuard choose which sites to rate?

HealthGuard’s team prioritizes the sites it rates based on a number of factors, such as the amount of engagement a site gets on social media. In order for HealthGuard to consider rating a site, it needs to have a significant amount of news content, much of which should be focused on health topics. 



How can I suggest a new site to be rated by HealthGuard?

You can suggest a website for our team to rate here.



What do I do if I disagree with a rating?

We love feedback! Feel free to let us know if you think we got something wrong.



Can I use HealthGuard for commercial purposes?

HealthGuard is for personal use only. Our Terms of Use strictly forbid any commercial use of HealthGuard or NewsGuard without a commercial license. Learn more about how to license HealthGuard here.



Can I use HealthGuard for academic research?

HealthGuard is for personal use only, but we have special licenses for researchers at nonprofits and academic institutions that enable them to use HealthGuard’s data at a low cost.

We work with a wide range of research institutions in this capacity, and our team tries to accomodate the wide range of needs and use cases among research institutions. For more information about using HealthGuard for research, click here.



Can I use HealthGuard for educational purposes at my school or library?

Yes! We encourage educators and librarians to use HealthGuard to help teach media literacy. Visit our news literacy page for educational resources and to learn more about our public library program.



How can my company or institution access HealthGuard’s ratings for commercial purposes?

We work with companies in a wide range of industries to enable them to use our ratings data for various purposes. If you are interested in using HealthGuard for commercial purposes, contact us here.