Mobile users surfing the web with Microsoft’s Edge browser are being warned to steer clear of the UK newspaper Daily Mail's website, citing the online publication as a hot spot for untrustworthy content. Upon going to the Mail Online website, readers using the Edge browser on their mobile who have the NewsGuard plug in installed are greeted with a warning: “Proceed with caution: this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”
NewsGuard is a startup which says it aims to: “fight false news, misinformation, and disinformation.” It claims it wants to establish industry-standard benchmarks for online news publications.
Until recently, NewsGuard had only been available to people who had made a conscious decision to download it, but following an update to the Edge browser for iOS and Android, it is now baked into the Edge browser on Apple and Android devices. At present, it must be switched on by users of the Edge app.
NewsGuard analysts rate news websites based on nine factors, ranging in credibility and transparency. For each case, the analyst researches actions such as repeatedly publishing false content, gathering and presenting information responsibly, and avoiding deceptive headlines. NewsGuard rated Mail Online one out of five for credibility.
In a statement, a Mail Online spokesman said: “We have only very recently become aware of the NewsGuard start-up and are in discussions with them to have this egregiously erroneous classification resolved as soon as possible.”
NewsGuard co-founder Steve Brill told The Guardian: "We spell out fairly clearly in the label exactly how many times we have attempted to contact them. The analyst that wrote this writeup got someone on the phone who, as soon he heard who she was and where she was calling from, hung up. We would love to hear if they have a complaint or if they change anything.”
NewsGuard is also currently available for download on Google Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari browsers. Additionally, the service warns to stay away from content on extremely biased news sites such as InfoWars, Daily Kos, and Sputnik.
Microsoft contacted us on 25 Jan and asked for a statement to be added to this post, which we are happy to do:
"Microsoft is partnering with NewsGuard to offer the NewsGuard browser extension on Microsoft Edge, and a feature in Microsoft Edge mobile apps for iOS and Android to help our customers evaluate news sources. Across both the browser and the apps, NewsGuard is optional and customers need to take action if they want to use the feature.”