'Fake news' detection tool that rates websites on trustworthiness launches in UK

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A fake news detection tool that rates websites on their trustworthiness has launched in the UK.

NewsGuard which can be downloaded to a web browser or used on mobile phones through Microsoft's Edge browser, uses human teams of journalists and analysts to assess and rate the credibility of news sites.

It then awards them a green or red "nutrition label" as guidance for users, which is displayed alongside links to the site in search engines and on social media.

The free tool rates websites based on nine criteria, including whether a site repeatedly publishes false content, regularly corrects or clarifies errors, handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly, clearly labels advertising, and declares its ownership details.

"We apply the human intelligence of our trained analysts to the problem that Silicon Valley’s artificial intelligence has failed to solve - the plague of misinformation and disinformation online," said NewsGuard's co-chief executive Steven Brill.

Internet and social media companies have faced increased pressure from the Government about their need to better police fake news.

Both a recent report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee on fake news and the Government's white paper around online harms criticised the current approach of technology firms - and also named NewsGuard as a tool which could be used against misinformation.

The firm, which launched last year in the US, makes its full rating and scoring reports freely available to web users as part of its pledge to be transparent, and claims it offers a more practical alternative to censorship or computer algorithms that demote articles and websites.

It said it had so far rated around 150 news websites in the UK - which it said represented around 90 per cent of the news and information content shared online in the UK - ranging from national news corporations to local news sites and blogs.

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