NewsGuard Tracks Large Increase in Number of Sites Publishing False Voting Content Following Election Day; Tally Climbs to 122
NewsGuard’s analysts have identified these unreliable sites in the U.S, and overseas in the UK, Germany, France, and Italy
(Nov. 17, 2020—New York City) Two weeks after Americans turned out in record numbers to vote in the 2020 presidential election, and two weeks since NewsGuard launched the Election Misinformation Tracking Center with 21 sites identified, NewsGuard’s staff has now cataloged more than 100 Red-rated (unreliable) websites that have published materially false information about voting, the election, and the ballot counting process.
“Despite the fact that Americans cast their ballot two weeks ago, new claims continue to emerge daily rooted in the false narrative of massive fraud,” said Gabby Deutch, the Election Misinformation Tracking Center’s coordinator and NewsGuard’s Washington Correspondent. “Misinformation about the election has not gone away or decreased since the results of the election were determined — in fact, we are adding new misinformation publishers to the site daily, signaling the wide reach of these false claims and the accelerating efforts of those spreading them. These are sites spreading misinformation about the election process itself,” she added. “The list does not include websites that might be spreading misinformation about any candidates on either side of the aisle.”
Before Election Day, NewsGuard regularly found misinformation about mail-in voting and the electoral process on news and information sites around the world. As events have unfolded, these Red-rated sites have shifted to publishing misleading claims about vote-counting procedures, election observer access, and the involvement of covert or clandestine actors. The collective actions of these unreliable outlets may sow doubt about the American electoral process.
NewsGuard has rated and created Nutrition Labels for all the news and information websites that account for 95% of online engagement, based on nine basic, apolitical criteria of journalistic practice. Sites are rated Red if they score below 60 points on NewsGuard’s 100-point scale.
Sites that cater to audiences in Germany, France, Italy and the UK have also published misinformation about the U.S. election. NewsGuard has previously reported on the growth of the U.S.-based conspiracy QAnon overseas, and many of the same NewsGuard Red-rated European sites that have promoted QAnon are also now publishing misinformation about the U.S. election.
“Many of these Red-rated sites were already within NewsGuard’s database of more than 6,000 websites, due to their lack of adherence to basic journalistic practices,” said Eric Effron, NewsGuard’s editorial director. “We call that ‘pre-bunking.’ With the Election Misinformation Tracking Center, we hope to help our readers — and the general public — navigate this unusual post-election period. News consumers should approach these sites with caution and skepticism.”
All the sites listed on the Tracking Center were included after an analyst reviewed the website and evaluated its content according to NewsGuard’s nine apolitical criteria of journalistic practices, such as whether it regularly corrects or clarifies errors and whether it avoids deceptive headlines. The publicly-available Tracking Center includes an example of election misinformation published by the site, along with NewsGuard’s explanation about why the content contains materially false information. NewsGuard sought comment from all the sites listed on the tracker and includes comments from sites that provided them.
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 concerned about their brand safety, and the Misinformation Fingerprints catalog of top hoaxes.
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, education companies, and social media and search platforms in order to make NewsGuard’s information about news websites available to their users. Consumers can access these ratings by purchasing a subscription to NewsGuard, which costs $2.95/month and includes access to NewsGuard’s browser extension for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox and its mobile app for iOS and Android. The extension is available for free on Microsoft’s Edge browser through a license agreement with Microsoft, and NewsGuard’s ratings can also be accessed free through the Edge mobile browser. Hundreds of public libraries globally receive free access to use NewsGuard’s 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.