NewsGuard Launches HealthGuard, a New Tool to Protect Against Online Health Care Hoaxes
Hospital systems, health insurers, and doctors’ offices can license HealthGuard ratings and Nutrition Labels and other health literacy resources for their patients and customers to inoculate them against health care misinformation.
(June 2, 2020—New York City) Declaring that “The internet is not your doctor,” NewsGuard, a company that deploys journalists to issue trust ratings for thousands of news and information websites across the U.S. and Europe, today announced that it has launched a new service aimed at protecting people from health care myths related to vaccines, cancer, COVID-19, and more. HealthGuard specifically targets news and information websites that cover health care issues – including sites that publish reliable health information, as well as those that spread dangerous misinformation on these topics.
HealthGuard is designed to be licensed by hospital systems, health insurers, doctors’ offices, and others interested in providing patients and their families as well as other stakeholders with ratings of the reliability of online sources. In addition, these health-care provider licensees will be able to share HealthGuard’s media-literacy resources, including flyers highlighting the top 12 health care myths and the top 13 COVID-19 myths, tips for using search engines knowledgeably to find reliable health expertise, videos on how to evaluate the reliability of health care websites, and educational quizzes explaining the difference between viable treatments and bogus claims.
NewsGuard has rated and created Nutrition Labels for more than 4,000 websites representing all the news and information websites accounting for 95% of engagement online. Its team of journalistically trained analysts apply nine basic criteria of journalistic practice, with each site receiving a score from 0 to 100 and a green or red rating. HealthGuard represents the subset of these sites that publish health care news and information. At present, approximately 17% of all the sites NewsGuard has rated provide health care information. Moreover, 37% of all of the sites that NewsGuard has rated as generally unreliable are sites that publish health care hoaxes, making health misinformation one of the largest categories of false news on the internet. And arguably the most dangerous.
“The World Health Organization says COVID-19 has created an ‘Infodemic’ and has expressed hope for a ‘vaccine against misinformation,’” said Steven Brill, NewsGuard co-CEO. “With HealthGuard, we provide a key tool against the Infodemic and a new vaccine against misinformation for people with access to our ratings and Nutrition Labels explaining the trustworthiness of news and information websites. We prebunk sources of the latest hoaxes, warning people to be cautious before believing the new misinformation they publish.”
Well before COVID-19, NewsGuard data indicated that more than one in 10 websites with which Americans engage each month publish health care misinformation. Many of the websites that used to claim that 5G causes cancer now claim that 5G causes COVID-19. The company’s COVID-19 Misinformation Tracking Center has identified 223 websites that have published misinformation relating to the virus, such as false claims that bleach or Vitamin C will prevent the virus or that any vaccine developed for COVID-19 will be too dangerous to take. The company has also identified numerous “Super spreaders” of COVID-19 hoaxes among Facebook and Twitter accounts around the world.
“The Infodemic has spread as fast as COVID-19,” said Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard co-CEO. “There is so much misinformation online that unless action is taken to ensure good information drives out bad information, a significant percentage of people say they will refuse to take a COVID-19 vaccine when one is developed. We hope entities concerned about the COVID-19 Infodemic will make HealthGuard available to their patients and customers as quickly and as broadly as possible.”
HealthGuard is available to hospital systems, health care insurers, doctors’ offices, social media platforms, search engines, internet providers, and internet safety companies for licensing as a data feed of ratings and Nutrition Labels. This can then be incorporated into the websites and other communication tools of health care entities, including their private networks. The HealthGuard browser extension can also be licensed by these entities and provided to those patients and customers who want to access HealthGuard’s ratings on their own, apart from the health care entities’ tools.
For example, if a hospital system has its own internal network, the HealthGuard rating could appear whenever a doctor or patient uses the network. Similarly, a practice’s office could install HealthGuard on its WiFi if an insurance company that includes the practice in its network licenses it for that doctor’s office, or if the doctor wants to license HealthGuard directly. Or a health insurer could offer the HealthGuard browser extension as a benefit for its insureds, as could a pharmacy retailer for its customers. An insurance company, practice group, or retail chain could also make the HealthGuard health literacy materials available on its websites and at its in-person locations, where relevant.
To learn more about licensing or sponsoring HealthGuard, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Launched in March 2018 by media entrepreneur and award-winning journalist 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 rates all the news and information websites that account for 95% of online engagement across the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Italy. NewsGuard products include NewsGuard, HealthGuard and BrandGuard, which helps marketers concerns about their brand safety.
NewsGuard rates 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. It awards weighted points for each criterion and sums them up; a score of less than 60 earns a “Red” rating, while 60 and above earns a “Green” rating, which indicates it is generally reliable.
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. These ratings are made available to consumers through its browser extension, which is available on Chrome, Safari, Edge, and Firefox browsers, on Android devices through a mobile app, and on iOS or Android devices through the Edge mobile browser. Hundreds of libraries globally use NewsGuard’s free media literacy browser extension on their public-access computers to give their patrons more context for the news they encounter online. For more information, including to download the browser extension and review the ratings process, visit newsguardtech.com.
Steven Brill, Co-CEO, email@example.com, +1 212-332-6301
Gordon Crovitz, Co-CEO, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 212-332-6407
Matt Skibinski, General Manager, email@example.com, +1 973.818.4698
Sarah Brandt, Vice President of News Literacy Programs, firstname.lastname@example.org