In Brief

Daily Mail hits out over ‘fake news’ rating by Microsoft app

NewsGuard plug-in says the newspaper’s site ‘fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability’

The Daily Mail is demanding action after learning that Microsoft browser users who visit the newspaper’s website are being warned the site cannot be trusted.

The NewsGuard add-on, which was integrated into Microsoft’s mobile Edge browser this week, issues a notification to users if they visit a website that the New York-based service’s team of journalists and analysts deems to be peddling “fake news”. 

Visitors to such sites are met with a pop-up window that warns: “Proceed with caution: this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”

The window also contains a link to a so-called Nutrition Label detailing the reasons for the rating, with a checklist with ticks or crosses next to criteria such as “discloses ownership and financing”, “gathers and collects information responsibly”, and “has been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases”.

Websites are given a score calculated by humans rather than an algorithm, and assigned a rating of green or red to indicate their trustworthiness.

The NewsGuard add-on is not turned on by default, and customers must opt-in to use the feature.

The inclusion of Mail Online on the list of sites with a red rating has prompted a fierce backlash from the paper, which says it is “in discussions with [NewsGuard] to have this egregiously erroneous classification resolved as soon as possible”, the BBC reports.

But NewsGuard co-founder Steve Brill insists the rating was reached in a fair and transparent manner, says The Guardian.

“We spell out fairly clearly in the label exactly how many times we have attempted to contact them,” Brill said.

“The analyst that wrote this write-up 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.” 

Fringe news sites Breitbart, WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report have also been given red ratings, along with Kremlin-backed Russian news sites RT and Sputnik.

Qatar-based news agency Al Jazeera gets a red rating too, a decision that may be met with surprise by some commentators. 

Al Jazeera has been described as “a champion of audacity in face of obedience” by The Independent , while The Guardian has praised the site for “promoting free flow of information and opening up political debate”.

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