Humanity has come a long way. There were times in human history when releasing news was privileged of the few; perhaps a scribe, the village elders, or the person left responsible for a community. Though accountability was at its all-time high, often that news was skewed and sometimes corrupted to fit the best interest of the ‘news outlet.’
These days, with the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and personal computers – and the internet, which goes without saying, almost anyone anywhere can be a source of news. There is now what you can say democracy in the dispensation of news, with virtually anyone having the ability to give their own account of what happened.
Too much Democracy but little Accountability
Though it is easy right now to get on your phone and go on social media or a blog page and give your own account of some information. Sometimes there are individuals and even organizations that give out lies or half-truths. They might even fabricate the entire thing, create something out of nowhere. Hence, we are living in an era of fake news.
Well, Microsoft has teamed up with NewsGuard and built an extension for its web browser Edge, which will alert users when they visit a site that has been established by experienced journalists that the “website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”
The NewsGuard online tool is available as an extension on the desktop version of the Edge web browser, but it is natively built-in to the mobile version on both iOS and Android. However, it is turned off by default, so the user must turn it on to use it.
MailOnline does not take kindly being flagged Fake News
The tool has already flagged numerous site, including the popular tabloid MailOnline. When users visit the site on their mobile device (with the feature turned on) or desktop computer (with the extension installed), they are warned the site delivers fake news.
In light of the fact that Microsoft Edge is now flagging MailOnline as fake news, a spokesman from the site said:
“We have only recently become aware of the NewsGuard startup and are in discussions with them to have this egregiously erroneous classification resolves as soon as possible.”
NewsGuard is not based on Algorithm but real Professional Journalists
On its part, NewsGuard co-founder, Steve Brill, has responded to MailOnline statement by saying: “We tried to contact them three times in advance but they never replied to our emails. We’d be delighted to talk to them and have a dialogue. We pride ourselves on our transparency – we’re not an algorithm. If we’ve got anything wrong, we’d be happy to correct it.”
Other Right-Wing news outlets flagged
NewsGuard is also reported to have flagged news outlets like the Kremlin-backed RT news and Breitbart. When you visit these sites using the Edge browser, you get a ‘proceed with caution’ notification.
During the announcement of its partnership with NewsGuard last year, Microsoft said it was working on a new tool that will improve digital media literacy and transparency. The two companies hope to reduce “the impact of disinformation campaigns.”
However, as to how effective this tool will be, remains to be seen. Especially when you consider the fact there are not so many web visitors using the Edge browser. If NewsGuard really wants to eliminate fake news, then it should make extensions for alternative browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Apple Safari