NewsGuard joins WHO-backed campaign against COVID-19 misinformation, offers data to help advertisers target trustworthy sites

The company’s data on COVID-19 misinformation can be used to target advertisements to trustworthy news sites while avoiding sites publishing COVID-19 misinformation

(April 2, 2020) NewsGuard, which provides ratings and credibility scores for thousands of news websites, today announced that it is providing its data pro bono to a World Health Organization (WHO)-backed effort involving 10 major advertising and ad tech companies aimed at combatting misinformation about COVID-19.

NewsGuard’s team of journalists has been tracking COVID-19 misinformation for the past month in the company’s Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center, which includes a list of domains that have published misinformation about the disease and examples of false stories they have published. NewsGuard is providing this data to help members of the initiative better understand where on the Internet users may have encountered COVID-19 misinformation so that they can be targeted for public service ads pointing to accurate information from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO.

In a blog post announcing the collaboration, Amobee described how it was using NewsGuard’s data: “Currently 45 percent of all media content consumption is related to COVID-19. Brands can suffer from scale challenges if they exclude everything related to the pandemic… To help our advertiser clients navigate this challenge, we are teaming up with NewsGuard.”

“NewsGuard has provided Amobee with a free-to-use COVID-19-edition blocklist,” the blog post continued. “Amobee is implementing this platform-wide block in an effort to prevent ad spend from reaching websites that author fake news or misinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no action required by our customers to receive the brand safety benefit of this blacklist, and we do not expect to see any impact on performance following this implementation.”

At the same time, NewsGuard is offering its COVID-19 misinformation data to brands, ad agencies, and other programmatic ad companies so that they can avoid sending ad dollars to sites publishing COVID-19 misinformation.

“We’re seeing COVID-19 misinformation spread across the web as the virus spreads across the world⁠—and in many cases, the sites publishing it are supported by programmatic ads from major brands,” said NewsGuard Co-CEO Gordon Crovitz. “We’re delighted to be able to help health agencies and ad companies target users with accurate COVID-19 misinformation while also making it easy for brands to avoid supporting the sites publishing it with their ad spend.”

Advertisers interested in using NewsGuard’s COVID-19 reporting for this purpose can contact NewsGuard through any company participating in the initiative or directly from NewsGuard’s website.

NewsGuard Co-CEO Steven Brill explained how the offering can help solve a major problem both for programmatic advertisers and news organizations during the crisis.

“Unfortunately, many brands are so worried about their ads appearing on false COVID-19 content that they have chosen to pull their ads from all news about the virus⁠—which not only deprives them of valuable and engaged audiences, but also harms legitimate news organizations doing important journalism,” Brill said. “Our data can help advertisers continue supporting legitimate news sources while avoiding sending ad dollars to sites peddling misinformation.”

Beyond its COVID-19 data, NewsGuard’s ratings database covers all the news and information sites that account for 95% of online engagement in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Italy and includes flags for specific categories of false news, such as health misinformation.

“Even before COVID-19, false medical information has been a huge category of misinformation since the day we started, with sites publishing claims that fruit pits cure cancer, 5G internet causes cancer, or vaccines cause autism⁠—all funded by programmatic ad dollars,” Crovitz said. According to NewsGuard data, more than one in 10 of the news and information sites with which users engage each month are sites that peddle such healthcare hoaxes. “Our data helps advertisers target trustworthy publishers while avoiding those sites.”

NewsGuard’s data can be licensed directly by brands, by agencies on behalf of brands, and directly through pre-bid technology available on certain Demand-Side Platforms. For more information, visit https://www.newsguardtech.com/#brand-safety.

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 that account for 95% of online engagement across the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Italy.

NewsGuard employs journalists to rate each site based on nine apolitical criteria of journalistic practice, including whether a site repeatedly publishes false content, whether it regularly corrects or clarifies errors, and whether it avoids deceptive headlines. Based on the criteria, each site receives a trust score of 0-100 and an overall rating of “Green,” indicating the site is generally reliable, or “Red,” indicating that it is not reliable.

NewsGuard’s ratings and Nutrition Labels can be licensed by internet service providers, browsers, news aggregators, and social media and search platforms. Consumers can access NewsGuard’s ratings through its browser extension  Android and iOS apps, and the Edge mobile browser. Over 700 libraries globally use NewsGuard’s free media literacy browser extension on their public-access computers for patrons.


  • Steven Brill, NewsGuard Co-CEO, steven.brill@newsguardtech.com +1 212.332.6301
  • Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard Co-CEO, gordon.crovitz@newsguardtech.com, +1 212.332.6407
  • Carter Stone, NewsGuard VP of Partnerships, stone@newsguardtech.com, +1 646.637.2932