Misinformation Fingerprints™ Process

NewsGuard’s Misinformation Fingerprints™ are a human- and machine-readable catalog of the top false narratives spreading online. They provide human-vetted, transparently sourced data, alerting licensees to significant false claims as they arise, detailing their provenance, and tracking how they spread across social media platforms and the open web.

Licensees include social media companies seeking to mitigate falsehoods on their platforms, and the defense and intelligence communities seeking to counter Russian, Chinese, Iranian and other information operations hostile to democracies.

The Misinformation Fingerprints™ are created using a proprietary process conducted by NewsGuard’s team of expert misinformation and disinformation researchers—aided by machine learning and other technology tools:

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Narrative Identification

NewsGuard’s analysts identify potentially false narratives by monitoring the digital information environment, including:

  • Highly Engaged News Sources: NewsGuard’s analysts monitor, rate, and review all of the news and information sources accounting for 95% of online engagement. When analysts discover new false narratives during NewsGuard’s source rating process, they are added to the Misinformation Fingerprints™ dataset.
  • Known Disinformation Sources: NewsGuard’s analysts use AI-powered tools to monitor known publishers of mis- and disinformation across social media networks, content platforms, and the open web in multiple languages. Analysts use these tools and a variety of open source research and intelligence tools and techniques, in combination with their expertise in the media landscape, to identify emerging narratives and themes to investigate for potential disinformation narratives. They track the most pressing topics of misinformation, including false claims related to health, politics, democracy, and climate change, and brands.
  • State-Sponsored Media: Analysts with language fluency and expertise in each covered geographical area specifically monitor state-sponsored and -affiliated media sources, with a focus on conflict zones where misinformation is weaponized, such as Eastern Europe and the Middle East. They closely cover propaganda narratives tied to Chinese, Russian, and Iranian influence campaigns. For example, the NewsGuard team specializing in Russian disinformation routinely review more than 380 sources they have identified that account for the origin of false claims, including about the war in Ukraine.
  • Rapid Response Teams: NewsGuard launches “rapid response” monitoring efforts for emerging topics or events for which there is a high risk of disinformation, such as elections or armed conflicts. Research gathered from NewsGuard’s rapid response efforts, such as the Russia-Ukraine Disinformation Tracking Center or various Election Misinformation Tracking Centers, often leads to the identification of narratives to be added to the Misinformation Fingerprints™ database.

Narrative Evaluation

  • Assessment: Once a potentially false narrative is identified, NewsGuard’s team attempts to ascertain whether the narrative is true or false. The journalistically trained analysts apply open-source research tools and techniques for evaluating narratives, establishing authoritative information to confirm or debunk each narrative, such as evidence from credible sources rated by NewsGuard, primary sources and documents, open-source public data, and subject matter experts. Narratives are only established as Misinformation Fingerprints™ if they can be determined to be clearly false based on credible, transparent and accountable evidence.
  • Documentation: If a narrative is determined to be false, the analyst captures evidence of its falsehood in the form of a written report describing the false narrative, providing evidence proving that it is false, how it emerged, and where it spread.
  • Editorial Review and Fact-Check: This explanation and evidence of its falsehood is reviewed by layers of editors, including by NewsGuard’s co-CEOs.

Misinformation Fingerprinting

Once a narrative is confirmed to be false based on credible countervailing evidence, NewsGuard’s analysts use open-source tools and techniques to create a detailed data entry for the narrative containing data seeds designed to enable licensees with AI tools to identify and track instances of the narrative. The fingerprinting process involves capturing dozens of data points about the narrative, such as:

  • URLs for examples of content conveying the false narrative from websites, social networks, content platforms, and the open web
  • Text and content snippets from examples of the false narrative being conveyed on social networks, content platforms, and the open web
  • Related search terms, keywords, and hashtags
  • Data about the false narrative’s location and where it has spread
  • Data about the false narrative’s origin and start date
  • An assessment of the risk of harm for the narrative

False Narrative Monitoring

Once a narrative is fingerprinted, NewsGuard’s analysts monitor for changes in the narrative, variations of the narrative, and new instances of the narrative being published by prominent sources. These data are added to the Misinformation Fingerprint™ for the narrative as they are detected.

At the same time, NewsGuard uses AI-powered monitoring tools to alert analysts when an instance of a false narrative is published by a new, unrated source so that the source can be evaluated for a possible rating.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do NewsGuard partners use Misinformation Fingerprints™ to counter disinformation?

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NewsGuard’s Misinformation Fingerprints™ are used by companies, governments, and non-governmental organizations to detect and recognize misinformation and disinformation.

Many of our partners also feed the Fingerprint data into AI and machine learning tools to proactively monitor news sites and social media for posts containing related keywords or hashtags, or to look more granularly for trends in the spread of false content.

NewsGuard’s unique catalog of Fingerprints is also a powerful tracing tool for identifying the origin and understanding the geographical spread of specific false claims.

Who uses Misinformation Fingerprints™?

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The Fingerprints are licensed by technology platforms, government agencies, cyberdefense firms, intelligence analysts, reputation management firms, researchers, and private sector specialists, among others, looking for actionable insights on misinformation and disinformation narratives.

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