NewsGuard Announces UK Launch to Tackle Misinformation Online

  • 80% of UK citizens want tools to counter misinformation online
  • Jimmy Wales (co-founder of Wikipedia) and Anders Fogh Rasmussen (former Prime Minster of Denmark) join NewsGuard’s Board of Advisors to tackle misinformation online
  • NewsGuard’s ratings and ‘Nutrition Labels’ published for more than 90% of the UK’s online news

NewsGuard, which counters misinformation online with a “human intelligence solution”, launches today (24th April 2019) in the UK at an event at the British Library.

Following a successful launch in the US a year ago, NewsGuard announced that it is bringing its solutions to the UK to help solve the problem of misinformation and disinformation online.

This is through a practical, easy to use product that censors or blocks nothing while providing information about the reliability of any website purporting to publish news.

Ratings and Nutrition Labels, which cover the news and information websites responsible for more than 90% of the news and information consumed and shared online in the UK were launched today, providing consumers with guidance on each site’s credibility.

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. Mobile users can access the ratings and Nutrition Labels through the Microsoft Edge browser; Microsoft is the first technology company to make NewsGuard available to its users.

In addition to the initial rating for the news and information websites, NewsGuard has a rapid response SWAT team of journalists who identify newly trending websites that have not yet been rated because they have just been launched. These websites are often created to spread misinformation and disinformation.

At the British Library event, NewsGuard also launched its Media Literacy Partnership Program to UK libraries, which allows patrons to engage critically with the news and information websites in their social media feeds and search results.

The launch comes at a critical time in the UK.

A poll carried out by YouGov for NewsGuard shows the urgent need for solutions to tackle misinformation online, with 93% of respondents saying they thought false information and/or misleading information on the internet is a problem.

Eighty percent said that social media companies should do more to provide users with information about the reliability of news websites, and 75% said search companies should do more.

When asked whether they would find a tool like NewsGuard helpful, 82% said such a service would be very or fairly helpful.

The need for a product like NewsGuard has been echoed in both the DCMS Committee Disinformation and Fake News Report, and the government’s Online Harms White Paper, which cited NewsGuard as a tool against misinformation. Damian Collins, MP and chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has said, “There needs to be a broad-based code of conduct to rebalance the relationship between news providers and social media platforms, and…this should include an obligation on behalf of the platforms to help their users distinguish between quality journalism and stories coming from organisations that have been linked to disinformation or are regarded as being unreliable sources. The social media companies could develop tools like this for themselves, or work with existing providers, such as NewsGuard.”

NewsGuard is therefore pleased to announce several senior advisors to the team to help tackle misinformation online in the UK.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Prime Minister of Denmark, former secretary general of NATO and founder of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, and Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia will join the global Advisory Board, as will Richard Sambrook, who spent 30 years at the BBC, where he was Director of Global News, and who is director of the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff University and who also joins as a Senior Advisor in the UK. Sambrook advises on the assessments of the nine criteria of journalistic practice that NewsGuard uses to assess each website, and he reviews all UK ratings and Nutrition Labels.

Following the launch in the UK, NewsGuard has plans imminently to launch in Germany, France and Italy, ahead of the European Parliament elections in May.

Jimmy Wales, NewsGuard global advisory board member, said: “NewsGuard’s Nutrition Labels are an effective, wonderfully designed, and unique tool for helping people understand who is feeding them the news. I’m delighted to be associated with NewsGuard.”

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NewsGuard global advisory board member, said:  “NewsGuard is a welcome new tool in the movement to preserve democracies around the world. News consumers can verify whether sources that they trust meet journalistic standards. In the fight against disinformation and fakery, we need more tools like this to empower users.”

Richard Sambrook, NewsGuard senior advisor UK and global advisory board member, said: “I am delighted to be able to advise NewsGuard on how its nine basic and apolitical criteria of journalistic practice apply to all the news and information websites that account for 90% of engagement in the UK. NewsGuard is a practical tool to help news consumers in the UK avoid misinformation and disinformation.”

Stella Thebridge, chair of the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL), the lead membership organisation for managers of services to children and young people in public libraries and Schools Library Services, said:  “We are delighted to recommend the NewsGuard initiative to users of libraries across the UK. The unique alerts provided by NewsGuard to the provenance of news websites means that all computer users can be fully informed about the accuracy and source of the information they are reading, enabling them to take their own view about what they are reading. We hope both public and school libraries will see the benefits of offering NewsGuard on networked computers as well as encouraging individuals to add NewsGuard to their own devices.”

Steven Brill, NewsGuard Co-CEO, said: “We are proud to have been able to partner with the terrific journalists in the UK, led by Richard Sambrook as we launch here just eight months after our launch in the US.

“NewsGuard is committed to applying fully transparent and disclosed criteria to all news websites so that consumers will have a better understanding of news websites. We apply the human intelligence of our trained analysts to the problem that Silicon Valley’s artificial intelligence has failed to solve—the plague of misinformation and disinformation online, which is leading to decreased trust in media and concerns about electoral integrity in democracies.”

Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard co-CEO, said: “We are pleased to launch in the UK and soon in other countries in Europe. Misinformation and disinformation are global problems, made possible by technological innovations in Silicon Valley. Our ratings and Nutrition Labels are tools for citizens to know the reliability of news websites wherever they see news online, and we look forward to more technology companies following Microsoft’s lead to make NewsGuard available to their users in their social media news feeds and search results.”

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