More than 10% of the news websites Americans rely on spread misinformation about health issues such as vaccines
More than one-third of the websites NewsGuard analysts rate as generally unreliable publish bad science and health hoaxes, helping to explain the return of measles and other health risks.
(NEW YORK, July 30) NewsGuard today released data quantifying the prevalence of health misinformation online, which helps explain the return of measles and other diseases that depend on people being vaccinated. NewsGuard uses nine basic journalistic criteria to rate and provide Nutrition Labels for the top news and information websites, with generally reliable sites being rated green and generally unreliable sites being rated red. The key findings relating to health news and information:
Of the nearly 3,000 news and information websites that account for 96% of online engagement in the U.S., 11% publish misinformation about health. This means that more than one in 10 news websites accessed by Americans includes bad information about health, such as false information about the risks of vaccines.
Of all the news and information websites NewsGuard has rated red for being generally unreliable, more than one third publish false or unfounded claims about health topics.
These websites include a network of more than 200 sites related to the NaturalNews.com website, which routinely publishes articles alleging that the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella cause autism. Other sites that NewsGuard warns should be read with caution promote claims that marijuana cures cancer or that fruit pits cure cancer.
“Much of the focus on misinformation has been on political websites, but misinformation by health websites is also an enormous problem,” said Steven Brill, NewsGuard Co-CEO. “Americans consume an unhealthy diet of misinformation, with more than one website in10 publishing health misinformation, amounting to more than one third of all the websites that NewsGuard has rated as generally unreliable. This sort of false information is especially troubling because it has the ability to do real harm to the health of readers and families.”
About NewsGuard: Launched in March 2018 by media entrepreneur Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard provides credibility ratings and detailed “Nutrition Labels” for thousands of news and information websites. NewsGuard’s ratings and Nutrition Labels can be licensed by internet service providers, browsers, news aggregators, and social media and search platforms in order to make NewsGuard’s information about news websites available to their users.
NewsGuard’s trained journalists rate news websites based on nine basic, apolitical criteria of journalistic practice. These ratings are made available at no cost to consumers through its browser extension, which is available on Chrome, Safari, Edge and Firefox browsers, and on mobile devices through the Edge mobile browser for iOS and Android devices.
How NewsGuard works: Before publishing a rating and Nutrition Label for a website, NewsGuard analysts reach out to people responsible for the website to ask about any issues related to the nine criteria. As a result, more than 500 websites have made improvements to their online practices either during this prepublication comment period or soon after publication of the rating and Nutrition Label.
For more information, including to download the browser extension and review the ratings process: newsguardtech.com