Hands-On with Microsoft Edge’s Fake News Warning

Posted on January 24, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft, Mobile, iOS, Android with 96 Comments

Microsoft has partnered with NewsGuard to warn users of its Edge mobile browser about fake news. And I just had to see what that looked like.

As you may have seen, Microsoft quietly added the NewsGuard fake news detection service to the mobile (Android and iOS) versions of the Microsoft Edge web browser. (Users of Edge on the desktop can manually install a NewsGuard extension if they’d like to experience this functionality in Windows 10.) This move is controversial on a number of levels: Though the NewsGuard functionality is not enabled by default on mobile, it is, in fact, included in the product when you download Edge from Google’s or Apple’s online store. For this reason, I feel that Microsoft is still the responsible party here, despite its protestations to the contrary.

News of this integration came after the UK’s The Daily Mail, the type of publication that devalued journalism to a degree that has since become common on blogs, complained that it had been flagged by Edge on mobile as untrustworthy.

Intrigued, I enabled NewsGuard in Microsoft Edge on Android. To do so, navigate to More (“…”) > Settings > News rating and enable the option “Display ratings on address bar.”

Now, when you navigate to a website in Edge mobile, a shield icon will appear in the address bar, alerting you to the site’s trustworthiness rating. Thurrott.com gets an empty/blank shield, presumably because it has not been rated.

The New York Times gets a green shield, noting that “this website maintains basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”

I happen to disagree with that, given its bogus health reporting.

In fact, I’ll give you a perfect and recent example of how this publication routinely deceives and confuses its readers: On January 4, The New York Times reported that marijuana use came with serious mental and physical health risks and that the push to legalize it throughout the United States should be stopped. Then,  a week later, it reported that fears about the health risks were overblown and that “speculation and fear should be replaced with the best evidence available.” Classic New York Times.

Anyway. The Daily News fares less well, with a red shield.

This denotes that this publication “generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.” And when you select a “See the full Nutrition label,” whatever that means, you’re told that the Daily Mail is a “British tabloid newspaper” that “repeatedly publishes false information and has been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases.” Ouch. Scroll down, and it just keeps going.

I can see why The Daily Mail is upset. But I can also see that The Daily Mail is a terrible publication that, again, led the way to the terrible “news” we see on blogs of all kinds every day now.

What I can’t see is why Microsoft would provide this functionality in its own web browser. I’ve already made the case that Microsoft itself publishes fake news—mainly as ads that pose as stories—on its own news sites/services. But Microsoft’s news sites/services have also delivered malware, as recently as this past week, because it allows ads to pose as stories and it clearly doesn’t do a great job of curating what gets published through those entry points. Ultimately, this is a matter of trust.

In any event, I like the idea of this functionality, generally speaking. But as an add-in the user chooses, not as something that’s just built-in to the browser. I figure the issue on mobile is that Edge, like Chrome and Safari, doesn’t support extensions. So the only way to get this feature into the browser is to just include it. And to Microsoft’s credit, it is an opt-in feature, and not enabled by default.

That’s fine. But it’s still Microsoft’s responsibility. So when I write that Microsoft—and not NewsGuard—is punishing The Daily Mail, that’s exactly what I mean. And maybe they deserve it.

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Comments (96)

96 responses to “Hands-On with Microsoft Edge’s Fake News Warning”

  1. MichaelMDiv

    At the risk of sounding like a self-righteous jerk, I think it is inaccurate and misleading to label the NYT as "reporting" the risks of marijuana, when the content was published in their opinion section (or at least, it is filed there now). Op-Eds are not objective news, nor should they be treated as such. When a "news story" is trying to lead the audience in a particular direction, it is no longer news, but opinion (or entertainment, depending on your point of view).

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to MichaelMDiv:

      That's a cute delineation, but these articles both appeared on the front page in their app, days apart. I cited these because they just happened. But they do this all the time, especially with health/nutrition reporting. It's insidious.

      • provision l-3

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        It isn't a "cute" delineation. A news source making that delineation is one of the criteria that News Guard uses when evaluating a site. I think that you tried to pass off both as reporting in your criticism (presumably hoping no one would bother to click through) speaks more to the quality of this site than either News Guard of NYT.

      • Chris_Kez

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Again, it was an opinion piece and says so at the top of the article, at the front of the browser tab (if viewed on desktop) and at the front of the URL header. It really cannot be any clearer than that. This kind of clear distinction between opinion and reportage is one of the standard requirements for any decent publication, and exactly the kind of thing that News Guard is looking for. You might disagree with the opinion, but as long as it is labelled as such-- and the author is not trying to pass off opinion as well-researched fact then there is no issue with the piece. What News Guard is trying to do is highlight publications that knowingly deceive readers with factually incorrect news.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Chris_Kez:

          . . . It really cannot be any clearer than that. . . .

          Perhaps, but apparently not clear enough for some.

          Anyway, when there are legitimate differences of opinion among experts in a given field, it's better to have articles/opinion pieces from all sides of the argument. Unfortumately, without data and statistics, it's impossible to come to any meaningful scientific assessment of such arguments.

          • skane2600

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            These publications aren't primarily being judged on the basis of how they report specialized scientific material, but rather how they report on topics that have a wide interest to the general public.

            The existence of topics for which a definite answer is difficult to come by, doesn't preclude the many others the truth of which can be easily determined. Thus while the importance of nature vs nurture can be debated, the falsehood of a story that claimed a pizza parlor was part of a child trafficking ring cannot.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to skane2600:

              These publications aren't primarily being judged on the basis of how they report specialized scientific material . . .

              You may want to direct that at Paul Thurrott, since he's the one who implied that the 2 NYT articles are inconsistent, thus demonstrate the shabbiness of the NYT's health reporting.

              My 1st paragraph refers implicitly to the clear heading Opinion at the top of the 1st NYT article. It's clear, but apparently either insufficient to some as an indicator, or the meaning of opinion in the context of a newspaper is unknown to some. The 2nd NYT article is subtler since it requires scrolling to the bottom of the article to discover the author isn't an NYT reporter.

              My 2nd paragraph accurately represents my opinion on unsettled matters: better to provide as many different opinions as possible. I didn't say it wasn't possible to distinguish truth, e.g., Abraham Lincoln died before Union troops captured Jefferson Davis, from falsehoods like the one you gave, nor did I imply the truth or falsehood of such matters could be a matter of opinion.

    • mikes_infl

      In reply to MichaelMDiv:

      Part of the trouble is the new understanding of the word "reporting". Articles published within a "paper" or magazine whether online or in hardcopy used to be considered "reporting". Further separation between actual news and opinion was, and sometimes still is, difficult to distinguish. Those of us that have been around for a while still tend to use the old meaning of the word and find conflict with the new use.

  2. hrlngrv

    That 1st NYT link is to an opinion piece. That's not reporting per se. The 2nd NYT link is to an article not flagged as opinion but written by a medical school professor. IMO, presenting conflicting views increases the credibility of NYT's overall content.

  3. bluvg

    I understand and am sympathetic to the reactionary response to anything tinged with the perception of "filtering." But this is not that. It is an opt-in indicator that one can use to weigh credibility, not a pre-judgment of truth or falsehood, nor a filter.

    In an era where we're becoming desensitized to outrageous falsehoods and a resurgence of yellow journalism, this may not be perfect, but it's arguably necessary as a society. I don't agree it should be an add-in instead of bundled--people don't seek out add-ins like this (at least not yet). It also doesn't preclude someone from disabling it and downloading a different add-in.

    If someone has a better approach... by all means, please introduce it!

    • cadrethree

      In reply to bluvg:

      We do have a system in place. The legal system. If you outright lie to damage someone's name you will get sued and lose. Freedom of speech doesn't mean you can falsely cry "fire" in a moive theater without legal ramifications. Don't like Fox news or CNN, don't watch it. It's fascinating to me to watch the generation behind me and the millennials be so enthusiastic to self censor themselves.

      • bluvg

        In reply to cadrethree:

        Assessing the credibility of news sources is not the same as legal remedies for slander and libel. The courts do not have the capacity or responsiveness to deal with this type of issue.

        If it was censorship, I'd be against it as well. But this opt-in tool is not filtering or censorship.

        • cadrethree

          In reply to bluvg:

          I've never been to a major news site where they knowingly wrote outright lies. Now Fox News and CNN and other sites are protected from their outrageous views cause they always present it as their opinions. How's does that stop Twitter buzz and it's kind from spreading? Opinion pieces and Twitter aren't news. Real news stories present the facts with no opinions from the author and can be researched.

          • bluvg

            In reply to cadrethree:

            Good point about news vs. opinion on major news sites--I don't think this tool attempts to differentiate (Twitter as a site is probably out-of-scope?). The red/green indicator is obviously oversimplified, but it lets you dig a bit further into the criteria. It's still up to the reader what to make of the info--that dynamic hasn't changed--but at least things like sites can be called out for repeatedly publishing provably false news without subsequent retractions.

            Some people may be upset to find out their news source repeatedly publishes provably false information. That's not a bad thing.

            • cadrethree

              In reply to bluvg:

              Twitter is a more insidious vector for "false news". Don't like that term; outright lies. Take the Todd Gurely edited photo with the ref from last week's game, lots of people fell for that. If I go to my local newspaper site and they repeatedly publish false information as you say the writer should face legal and financial punishment. Now the moment the writer interjects opinion into his story he's covered. This new generation doesn't want a varied sampling of different opinions which is a major foundation of democracy. People just want to silence every opinion not their own. I don't have to like someone's opinions, but I do have to let them have their say and respect their right to do that. Somehow this new generation lost that idea which is scary and sad.

              • bluvg

                In reply to cadrethree:

                Agreed about the gen born about mid-90s on... after some child abductions got national attention, parents in the US went full helicopter-parent mode. Now universities ban (or are forced to ban) speakers that have a message some don't want to hear. Hard to stand against neo-Nazi nonsense if you put your head in the sand. It's not limited to that gen, though--people of all ages and stripes are turning to only the news they want to hear, lest it challenge their views.

                Something like NewsGuard is not perfect, but it's not a bad start. It's an aid, not a filter.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to bluvg:

                  Perhaps showing my age, I remember the uproar on my college campus when Alger Hiss came to speak. The left and right tribes had their preconceived positions, and there was lots more heat than light. Nevertheless, good that he came, good that he spoke, good that there were nonviolent if loud protests. [Good that the truth ultimately came out: he was a Soviet agent.]

      • Greg Green

        In reply to cadrethree:

        It’s not self censoring themselves, it’s self censoring others.

  4. Bob Nelson

    In fairness, and to keep Chris_Kez from yapping at everybody's heels, I decided to take it out for a spin.

    I purposely went to sites where some people would question the sites bias.

    Drudge Report-RED (huh?)

    PJMedia- RED


    Slate- GREEN

    Salon- GREEN

    TheNation-GREEN (you're kidding, right?)

    Buzzfeed-GREEN!? OH COME ON NOW!!

    Pretty much what I expected. Except for Buzzfeed. I guess they haven't updated their review yet. ?

    Looks like we have the usual collection of left wing hacks running the show at NewsGuard.

    What else would you expect these days?

    I give NewsGuard a big fat FAIL.

    Too bad, we could use a legitimate tool like this.

    • bluvg

      In reply to Bob Nelson:

      I don't really see myself as leaning left, but I've been pretty disappointed as the more popular right-leaning media increasingly seem to have no qualms about (or perhaps awareness of) being dishonest and misleading. It would be nice to have a William F. Buckley sort rise above the angry shout chorus, but at the moment, we can only look wistfully back at those days. There's some crazy rhetoric at either end, but from a credibility standpoint, the right-leaning media is a mess, with precious few bright spots of clarity.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to bluvg:

        Perhaps not the right-wing media you mean, but at least Fox News still has Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith on air, and to a lesser extent Juan Williams who's less skeptical up front but willing to admit errors.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Bob Nelson:

      FWIW, National Review, The American Spectator, Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard (now dead), The American Conservative, The Washington Free Beacon are all GREEN. That balances out The Nation and some others you list.

      You need to distinguish bias from either careless or intentional frequent inaccuracy. Bias can manifest as editorial choice about which FACTS are presented; incompleteness isn't inaccuracy. OTOH, inaccuracy means publishing falsehoods easily provable as false.

      A news story stating that in the 1950s the top income tax rate was 90% is correct but incomplete since it omits the word marginal, perhaps a sign of bias. OTOH, an article reacting to raising the top marginal income tax rate implying that everyone would pay 70% of their income in tax is clearly wrong. Most articles favoring raising the top marginal rate may be biased, but they're not inaccurate. In contrast, most opposing articles are either intentionally inaccurate or the authors are too ignorant to know the difference between marginal and effective average tax rates. Opinion: I figure most authors of the latter are not ignorant but assume most of their readers are.

      Thus the distinction I'd make between sources: do they assume their readers are able to make their own critical assessments, or do they believe their readers are ignorant sheep indifferent between being led to pasture, fleecing paddock or slaughter house?

  5. hrlngrv

    Error in 9th paragraph. You write Daily News, when what immediately follows applies to the Daily Mail. For anyone who's spent time in or near New York City, Daily News would mean New York Daily News.

  6. mikiem

    The merits of Newguard are much less relevant than the fact that Microsoft contracted with somebody to cure the problem.

    The term: "Fake News" was invented for catchy sound bites on cable news & a handy meme on Twitter. And it comes without the baggage of a strict definition -- if you don't like what's said, it's obviously Fake News. That's hard to deal with, technically & legally, with big tech increasingly held responsible for their roles in spreading something that is rarely objectively defined. The most common defense strategy is to hire some outside firm &/or set up a team [or teams] to study & deal with Fake News. It may indeed be impossible to eliminate, but these actions show that they're at least trying, which big tech legal teams pray might be enough.

    The only real defense against inaccurate stuff that's written or said is critical reading/thinking, common sense, an open mind, & lots of research.

    Paul faults the NYT for their health coverage, offering one example from the NYT featuring the "Opinion" of a book author, and a contradictory article written by a medical professor. Because the one example is clearly marked as an Opinion, I'm not sure how or why it applies, but that said, there's plenty of contradictory, & too often inaccurate information published by countless doctors, companies, & even the NIH & CDC -- 100% accurate medical-related reporting based on a flawed, inaccurate source is going to happen. That alone means it's dubious to rely on any newspaper for more than human interest stories related to health.

    FWIW, that doesn't mean that I think the NYT is great, or terrible -- personally I'm agnostic. Most every publication, whether it's a traditional newspaper like the Times or an individual's blog, tends to favor its readers. There's stuff they'll say, and won't, for fear of losing them. It's up to the reader to decide when what's written is pure bunk because of that, as well as to read alternatives that cover the stuff not mentioned.

  7. Thom77

    Let's cut through the BS here Thurott.

    We all know why NYT , CNN, MSNBC, DailyKos, Huffington Post, Buzz feed will all have green shields.

    This isn't about fake news. This isn't about integrity or informing the public responsibly.


    Let's stop the naivety here. I respect your mature and fair opinion on this issue, but there is a huge elephant in the room you seem to be avoiding.

    This is political at its heart.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Thom77:

      As provision asked, did you actually check this? If true, it might be because some of these publications do a pretty good job at being accurate. Not perfect, of course.

      Your wholesale rejection of so many news sites suggests that you just don't like reading what you disagree with. Your claim that rating sites is "controlling information" would be like saying that if Paul gives a bad review of a product, it can't be sold.

    • provision l-3

      In reply to Thom77:

      "We all know why NYT , CNN, MSNBC, DailyKos, Huffington Post, Buzz feed will all have green shields."

      Just a suggestion, you might want to fact check these things prior to posting because that statement is incorrect.

  8. maethorechannen

    Things that make me go hmmm - their third (or fifth - it's not exactly clear) largest investor is an ad agency


  9. Xatom

    It's not news, it's entertainment. Or it 's propaganda. As long as you remember this, you don't need an electronic overlord censor. Because that's what all this is-disguised censorship. Paul's report above does help me better understand him however.

    While the NYT is now simply a shell of what it once was, the example Paul cites compare a clearly labeled opinion piece vs a news piece. Op Ed's aren't news. If Paul can't understand that difference, it is understandable why he parrots xenophobia regarding Huewai's ability to spy with its devices. Of course if your trusted news source is the PRC news, i understand how you get there.

    What this article also lays bare is the sad state of affairs around fact and truth. If you believe something, in this case pot is good, then you must reject any differing pov, even if true. The antidote is actually speaking to people you disagree with and reading alternative pov least you become like Paul on China, filled with onfirmation bias.

    • jecouch66

      In reply to Xatom:

      Gotta go with Xatom on this one. It's your responsibility to keep yourself informed. If you lack the critical reasoning skills to know the difference between The Guardian and the Dailymail, then no red or green shield is going to solve your problem. It will introduce others, and more subtle and insidious ones. The axiom 'who watches the watchman' comes to mind here.

    • evox81

      In reply to Xatom:

      It's not as easy as "just remember it's entertainment or propaganda". There are many (many, many, many) people who are incapable of making this distinction. They either don't know better or they don't care. Giving them an (optional) big red hint that lets them know they should proceed with caution, then giving them the option to continue, probably isn't the worst thing.

      • Xatom

        In reply to evox81:

        One man's poison is another's dessert. Allowing any group in power to make recommendations about what is or isn't true begins the brisk walk to 1984.

        It may be hard and some people may be ill informed but the alternative is far worse.

        You read it in in these pages when a smart guy like Paul prefers to side with a totalitarian dictatorship over a democracy albeit with flaws over what a company would do at the demand of a dictator where no due process exists.

        Truth wins out in the end because of transparency and vocal debate not censorship. Never censorship no matter how abhorant the message. The ride may be rocky and hard but throughout history there were many times when one side or the other was convinced of their righteousness but were dead wrong.

        i've never met a person free of bias- i don't want them censoring what i see, hear or read.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Xatom:

      Tangent: comparisons of the deleterious effects of marijuana and alcohol may be useful. OTOH, discussions involving sociology about why one is OK but the other isn't would be unavoidably subjective.

  10. lvthunder

    So does this open Microsoft up to defamation lawsuits from sites that are wrongly tagged? It is their product after all.

    I was listening to Glenn Beck today and he just said this is another silicon valley attempt to silence the conservative viewpoint. He cited about 10 liberal outlets with green marks and about 5 popular conservative sites that were red including his own. He then interviewed the editor in chief of the blaze and went through the points the app said earned them the red mark and compared it to the liberal sites and they presented it the same way. Conservatives already feel that silicon valley is against them. This is just another thing they will point to and say see we are being held to a different standard then the liberal sites.

  11. WaltC

    This is nothing but a crass attempt to manipulate people. Pitiful. "Journalists" of late, especially NYT and MSNBC, among others, are almost non-stop, unverifiable, "anonymous-sourced" (usually means the writer invented the whole thing) sources of Fake News. Their political "news" *cough* gets an F-, as most of it is easily seen as contrived, partisan, and *false.* Giving the NYT a "green shield" is all I need to see to know that this is yet more partisan political fiction masquerading as fact. Might as well give a green shield to Pravda and Iran , too! Very sad. Remember Baghdad Bob?...;) We are almost there! How can you spot a Fake News political article? Easy: it names no sources and thus there is no way for *any* independent third-party verification. I've watched so-called "editors and journalists" put words in our President's mouth for three years--and when they run the videoclip that is supposed to show him making those statements--he almost never said what they said he said...;) Unreal. These "editors and journalist" must believe the US electorate is populated by fools far too stupid to know when they are being lied to and manipulated.

    • skane2600

      In reply to WaltC:

      Anonymous sources have been used for decades, they aren't something that was invented to persecute Trump. We would be poorly informed without them.

      • Greg Green

        In reply to skane2600:

        But the media used to double source anonymous sources, now they go with a single source as valid.

        • skane2600

          In reply to Greg Green:

          I don't think we know if that's the case or not. Were there multiple "Deep Throats" during the Watergate scandal? What's important is whether a story is accurate, not how many sources were used or whether they are identified.

          • provision l-3

            In reply to skane2600:

            It's kind of insane. There is a cottage industry out there that's purpose it is discredit the media. One of the more recent tricks is go after "anonymous sources". In doing so they prey on the general population's ignorance. Sadly people are too willing to jump on that bandwagon rather than take a minute to look into what they are being told. Ironic right? They are swallowing propaganda hook, line and sinker while accusing something else of being propaganda. The reality is large media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post have published Ethics and Standards that spell out how they deal with things like sources, anonymous sources, corrections ... If people took the time to read them they might be less likely to run around internet forums announcing how little they know by saying things that are just demonstrably false. They remind me of people that like to say "but evolution is just a theory" as if science uses the lay definition of theory and it doesn't have a very specific meaning with respect to science. It's all just intellectually dishonest.

      • provision l-3

        In reply to skane2600:

        Ohh.. but it was only on insignificant things like Watergate, nothing really big :)

  12. chump2010

    I don't get the big outrage about this. The President of the USA frequently declares an outlet of news as fake news and very few people worry about it. A group of people create an app that declares an outlet of news as lying and everyone gets super annoyed about it.

    There is precedence for letting a third party organisation decide what is true or not when it comes to news. In the UK we have fullfact, in the US you have politifcat.

  13. BBoileau

    Microsoft News used to be OK. It still has potential integrated into Launcher. The crazy, blatant ads forced me away.

  14. jecouch66

    Hey Microsoft, does this come with a bib?

  15. delicieuxz

    NewsGuard is a US propaganda tool, directed by US intel agencies. Look at its advisory board:

    • Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security (George W. Bush administration)
    • Richard Stengel, former editor of Time magazine and Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy (Obama administration)
    • (Ret.) General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA, former Director of the National Security Agency and former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (George W. Bush administration)
    • Don Baer, chairman of Burson, Cohn & Wolfe and former White House Communications Director (Clinton administration)
    • Elise Jordan, political analyst, NBC, and former speechwriter for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
    • John Battelle, co-founding editor of Wired and founding chief executive of Industry Standard magazines
    • Jessica Lessin, founder and editor-in-chief of The Information

    They aren't even trying to be subtle about the propaganda intentions behind the program: NewsGuard gives Voice of America, CNN, and Fox News green ticks. But, WikiLeaks, which NewsGuard even says has never published a fake document, is branded "untrustworthy". BTW, NewsGuard's co-founder has advocated for the prosecution of Julian Assange. How's that for conflict of interest?

    Remember that Microsoft voluntarily offered its users' data to the NSA as a part of PRISM. It's not much of a surprise that Microsoft would impose a blatant propaganda and disinformation program onto people. It's likely also tracking all the sites people visit with that data going to US intel agencies - though Microsoft probably is doing that even without the NewsGuard brainwashing tool.

    By the way, here's video of Richard Stengel saying that his job in Obama's government was to be the "chief propagandist". He further says that he has no problem with propagandizing the US public and that he supports using propaganda on the US public, claiming "I'm not against propaganda. Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population."


    That's someone who's telling you which websites are trustworthy and which aren't through NewsGuard.

    So, now you know what NewsGuard is: One of the US state's own propaganda tools to propagandize the public and steer them away from truthful information that isn't beneficial to US geopolitical objectives, and to steer people towards information that will deceive and brainwash them in favour of US geopolitical objectives. NewsGuard = propaganda.

    And here's NewsGuard's scoresheet:

    It does not repeatedly publish false content - Fail

    Gathers and presents information responsibly - Fail

    Regularly corrects or clarifies errors - Fail

    Handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly - Fail

    Avoids deceptive headlines - Fail

    Website discloses ownership and financing - Pass... tentatively. I think there needs to be a closer examination of where all of its funding comes from

    Clearly labels advertising - Pass... or Fail - depending on whether you count the propaganda ratings it gives as advertising

    Reveals who's in charge including any possible conflict of interest - Pass on the first part but Fail on the second part, as the whole thing is one big conflict of interest meant to deceive people. And the program and its website doesn't point that out.

    • skane2600

      In reply to delicieuxz:

      If you think anything you said in your comment proves that "NewsGuard is a US propaganda tool, directed by US intel agencies" you set the bar very low for evidence. Those Intel agencies would have to be very confused trying to figure out if they are suppose to do what Bush, Clinton, and Obama would want them to do given that they don't agree on much. The fact is they probably don't give a s**t what former presidents want.

  16. richfrantz

    Health news waffles, this is not unique to NYT. The "science" is always in flux it seems.

    • evox81

      In reply to richfrantz:

      Science studies make good headlines. But they're just that... studies. News organizations across the spectrum of integrity do a horrible jobs of properly conveying that it's "just a study".

  17. cadrethree

    I'm kind of mortified that a namless group can control what's acceptable viewing content. Theirs a fine line between reporting the news and influencing the news, which no hyper-corporation like Microsoft should be in the business of. Tools and rules always grow beyound their original intended scope down that slippery slope. What's next? Sites unfriendly to a particular mega-company gets flagged? Companies should leave stuff like this to actual government institutions where we have the power to kick them out of office.

  18. lordbaal1

    It doesn't work. It said Buzz Feed is OK. When last week Mueller had come out and said the Buzz Feed story is wrong.

    And so many sites jumped to conclusions about the kid and the native american. Even after the truth came out, they are still sticking with their original story.

    • bluvg

      In reply to lordbaal1:

      The special counsel's statement was carefully worded. Not that I would typically go to BuzzFeed for news, but they insist on the story, so it will be interesting to see whether their error is wholesale or more specific....

      • Greg Green

        In reply to bluvg:

        The fact that anyone in the media considers Buzzfeed a news organizations shows how willingly the main stream media engages in fake news when it fits their agenda. Only a few years ago ‘serious’ journalists mocked Buzzfeed for its clickbait lists. Now it’s a news organization. Too absurd to be true yet here we are.

  19. Subhadip Sen

    I have to disagree with those saying it's political propaganda. Lying is not a political view. Sure, Donald Trump is trying his best to normalise lies, but it's fairly objective to separate facts from fiction. On that note, I'm finding NewsGuard reasonably accurate, though I feel it shouldn't be binary - red or green. There's a checklist, they can surely work out a score; or at the very least red, yellow and green. Fox News will go into Red, NY Times into Yellow and The Economist in Green.

  20. Chris_Kez

    Again, I would strongly encourage folks read the actual criteria before commenting.


  21. markbyrn

    The arbiter of so called fake news AKA censorship

    • TheJoeFin

      In reply to markbyrn:

      If you read the list of criteria that News Guard has for reputable websites, it isn't about if the story is true or false, but more if the source meets a minimum bar of responsible journalism.

      • maethorechannen

        In reply to TheJoeFin:

        The problem with the criteria is that any organisation that is setting out to discredit news sources would be using more or less the exact same set. A news guard set up by a coalition of Chinese, Russian and Iranian state media would also claim to be a group of responsible professional journalists fighting false news and misinformation.

        • TheJoeFin

          In reply to maethorechannen:

          Sure. And if the Chinese/Russian/Iranian news guard published a list of criteria they used we could discuss the merits.

          People see a service like News Guard and freak out like it is telling people what to think. It is simply telling you (based upon a public list of criteria) if they believe this publication to be (in general) a trustworthy source.

          Like a thermometer can tell you the exact temperature outside, but it doesn't tell you how to dress, also it doesn't tell you if it is raining. Use the tool for what it was intended to do.

  22. wright_is

    Have you tried it on the Microsoft default page? Or on MSN.com? Do they get a suitable rating or are they cleared as trustworthy?

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to wright_is:

      Do you read the German press? NewsGuard has no rankings yet for German sites. How would you order the trustworthiness of FAZ, DW, Der Spiegel, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Die Zeit? Note I'm not including Bild.

      • wright_is

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I'm not surprised that the German sites currently have no ranking. The business is based in New York and employs ex-journalists (names I've heard suggest NYT and WSJ) to curate the list of sites. I expect most of them are English speakers only.

        I use personal experience and my own knowledge to judge each article I read. You can usually see the bias one way or another, so I try and read / watch multiple sources to try and get a better view.

        That said, IME, I find the German quality press (FAZ, SDZ, DW) more reliable than most of the English press. You can see the political bias in some stories, but, generally, they seem to get most of the basic facts correct, while putting their political spin on the interpretation.

        Again, I don't give a hoot about the politcal spin, so I filter that out and stick with the main story, where I can. Obviously, with purely political stories, that is difficult and in those instances reading multiple reports from different sources is the only way to get a half-way clear picture.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to wright_is:

      Not sure how to find the Edge New Tab page but MSN.com is green.

  23. james_rainey

    Perhaps we take a very different perspective on what's really going on. We have organizations that are now attempting to do something about this. While not perfect, if enough entities take the same paths but from different angles, the ultimate outcome could be beneficial. Although, I have no idea how anyone can inspect the inspectors.

    So, let's not beat them up for trying.

    In the short term, I applaud Microsoft. They can clean up their own house, and Paul's voice is loud enough, that hopefully they will take notice. In the long term, the companies that fund the False News agencies are the ones we might try holding accountable as well.

  24. Patrick3D

    Failed out of the gate, using NYTimes as a "green" example is hilarious.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Patrick3D:

      OK, what for you would be an example of a green/OK site?

      • tsay

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        The Guardian


      • coreyp

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Are there any “news” sites that deserve a good rating these days? It’s all deal-spam on technology-focused sites, “find out how (insert geolocation from IP) drivers are saving...” ads in local “news” sites, and “reporting” the opposite of what happened or outright fabrications from what we’re considered the top sites years ago.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to CoreyP:

          A few people have stated they consider AP and Reuters hopelessly biased, which leads me to wonder whether some people believe there is no reliable media at all. Perhaps not, but I don't find AP and Reuters any more biased than they were decades ago when the local newspaper ran articles with their bylines.

  25. Bob Nelson

    All I use for mobile is Edge. Adblock Plus for the win.

    But NewsGuard seems a little insulting to me. Who are the people deciding what's fake or not? A couple of "woke" interns?

    And if you're using any newspaper to get your health news, you're doing it wrong.

    I'm a gun nut. Do you think I go to the NYT to get "news" about gun control? ?

      • Bob Nelson

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        I will admit, seeing Steven Brill's name on the masthead lends it credibility, but my point still stands.
        I have enough life experience to be able to sift through the crap news on my own. I really don't need a guide to find my way through the maze.
        btw, could you state your involvement, if any, with NewsGuard? You seem a bit over-enthused, judging by your numerous posts defending it.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to Bob Nelson:

          I'm not involved or even particularly enthused about it. I just think this is a hot-button issue and it drives me crazy when people comment on stuff without even bothering to find out what it is. And unfortunately none of the articles here have a done a good job, in my opinion, of explaining what News Guard is trying to do or of providing a good context for discussing what Microsoft is doing.

          Whether one agrees with it or not, let's at least be somewhat informed about the topic before coming in keyboards blazing.

  26. pachi

    These big tech companies need to MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS. They are getting worse and worse. I do NOT want a internet filtered by google, amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook which is where we’ve been headed and stuff like this is terrible.

    • waethorn

      In reply to pachi:

      Big Tech/Data wants to be the gatekeepers of reality. Albeit, only the reality that they want to show you.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Waethorn:

        In the strictest scientific sense, truth is unknowable. The closest approximation is a mutually consistent set of hypotheses which conform to all observations to date. The problem is that most people have no experience considering more than an extremely small number of those observations.

        My problem with Big Data is that it doesn't care about causation, only correlation.

        • skane2600

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          On the contrary, all of science is based on the assumption that truth is knowable.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to skane2600:

            Sorry, I meant metaphysical truth. Science is concerned with contingent truth.

            Example: String Theory may be metaphysical truth, but until it's possible to design and perform experiments to collect evidence in support of it, it's not even contingent truth.

            • skane2600

              In reply to hrlngrv:

              OK, but since metaphysical truth has nothing to do with science, it doesn't make sense to say "in the strictest scientific sense...". You could say "in the strictest metaphysical sense". I don't see String Theory being in the realm of metaphysics, it's just a theory that may or may not be proven true in the future.

              At the atomic and sub-atomic level, models have been developed that can be useful for a variety of purposes but they don't necessarily describe physical reality. Chemistry has quite effectively taken advantage of the traditional atomic model but we don't really think electrons are tiny planets orbiting around the nucleus.

              • hrlngrv

                In reply to skane2600:

                It's not the definition of metaphysical truth which matters in science. Contingent truth is what matters in science, and something contingently true could be false and vice versa. That is, consistency with all evidence to date determines contingent truth, but new evidence could change what's considered true or false. Putting it differently, everything in science is a theory, nothing is absolute truth.

                Semantically, that's what makes mathematics NOT a science. OTOH, mathematics can be used as a tool for science, thus simplifications and approximations like Newton's theory of gravity, your example from chemistry are useful in some contingencies. 3-body problems involving asteroids, Newton OK; involving black holes, not as useful.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  It wasn't my intention to get into an in-depth discussion of science. I was just pointing out that truth being unknowable isn't a scientific principle as you suggested it was. In the context of this discussion of rating news sources, neither metaphysical truth nor contingent truth have much bearing on the topic.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  . . . In the context of this discussion of rating news sources . . .

                  Now you're taking my comments out of context. It would have been clear to most that I was off on a tangent. However, there are some who prefer to dispute anything. I may be one of that cohort, but you definitely are.

                  I started off with the assertion that In the strictest scientific sense, truth is unknowable. I should have qualified that as contingent truth. I stand by that because in science nothing is held to be so certain that contrary evidence would be ignored in order to preserve accepted truth.

                  In the context of the article, within this particular comment thread I haven't yet claimed anything about truth. I will now: in unsettled matters, it's better to see all points of view. In unsettled matters of science, there's not much point to considering arguments made without any data or statistics because there'd be no basis for SCIENTIFIC assessment, thus most opinion pieces about scientific matters are at best ad hominem appeals to authority.

  27. glenn8878

    While it would be nice if the ratings is based on actual fact checking, it’s actually about tainting an entire news website for bias. They should have disclaimers like this article hasn’t been reviewed, but we don’t like this news channel. News accuracy is 50% based on algorithms we won’t reveal.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to glenn8878:

      The entire point is to highlight publications and indicate whether they tend to do a good job or a bad job. They're attempting to do this with actual people so they can't possible review and rate every single article. The criteria are here if you haven't seen them.


      • glenn8878

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        I've seen the criteria contrary to what you claim that I'm not informed. It's actually quite ridiculous and skews the results.

        "Does not repeatedly publish false content" There's no detailing of what this means.

        "Gathers and presents information responsibly" This is almost like the first criteria in different words with added bias.

        "Regularly corrects or clarifies errors" Wouldn't this negate the first 2 criteria? But we are left with the first 2 having greater weight.

        "Handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly" Even Paul doesn't think this matters.

        "Clearly labels advertising" The content should stand on it's own.

        This whole thing is biased towards the news they like. That's not the decision for the readers who should actually read for themselves.

        • provision l-3

          In reply to glenn8878:

          Correcting or clarifying errors is not the same as false content


          Publish a story saying the "Abraham Lincoln lead the Martian invasion of Saturn" would be false content.

          Including the following in an article:

          "Abraham Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation in August of 1862"

          And then correcting it to

          "Abraham Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation in September of 1862"

          with a note stating you edited the article with the correction is correcting and clarifying.

        • skane2600

          In reply to glenn8878:

          "Does not repeatedly publish false content"

          It seems quite clear to me.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to glenn8878:

          I didn't claim you were not informed. I offered the link in case you hadn't seen them.

  28. bastecklein

    Well I think they are better off keeping their hands clean and staying above the 'fake news' fight. All this will do is get them a few attaboys from left wing tech bloggers who all use Chrome anyway. At the end of the day though, nobody uses Edge, so it makes little difference.