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NewsGuard Consider Using UK ISPs to Warn Users of Bad News Sites

Thursday, April 25th, 2019 (11:41 am) - Score 822

The co-founders of NewsGuard, which analyses and ranks websites in order to identify whether or not they’re trustworthy for news content, are reported to be discussing with broadband ISPs the possibility of introducing a new system that would alert users when they try to access an untrustworthy site.

At present it’s already possible to use the NewsGuard system by installing a plugin for your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc.) and Microsoft even does this by default in Edge, although the feature itself is optional. However, this sort of approach is not without its own issues of accuracy and political sensitivity, as shown when users of Edge were recently warned not to trust the Daily Mail website (Guardian).

Now the team behind NewsGuard hope to go even further and a report in The Guardian claims they’ve begun talks with major broadband ISPs, which could result in an automated system of alerts (e.g. warning pages) being presented to users whenever they attempt to access an untrustworthy news site. Customers would be given the option to turn this on or off, although it’s not yet known whether the feature is to be enabled by default.

At present NewsGuard seems to be more focused upon large mainstream news sites, although it’s unclear how this will work when they squeeze down to focus upon smaller sites and blogs. In any case ISPs have generally tended to resist the notion of becoming gatekeepers for online content, except where law and legislation demand, so it will be interesting to see whether the current talks actually result in a workable service.

On the other hand the Government’s recent Online Harms White Paper has made no secret of its desire to tackle fake news and hate speech, which is one area where the aforementioned approach could find its niche.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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13 Responses
  1. gerarda says:

    I think they were pretty accurate in warning them not to trust the Daily Mail. Where is the boundary line between fake and heavily biased and distorted news?

    1. Billy says:

      A large bank balance and an army of lawyers.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      Many people, myself included, would agree with you on that gerarda but equally it’s important to be careful about doing anything that might censor the free speech of different opinions and views. It’s a very fine balancing act.

    3. Bob2002 says:

      NewsGuard is inaccurate and fundamentally flawed – they’ve now retracted 50% of their original claims about he Mail – they now consider it generally trustworthy and accurate, and there must be question marks over why the Guardian is given a 100% pass(where does political opinion start and end in the articles you read?).

      When the political activists at Wikipedia played the same game in claiming the Mail was inaccurate this fact emerged –

      >”Last year, the Daily Mail and Mail Online together published more than half a million stories and yet received just two upheld adjudications each for inaccuracy from the UK Industry’s regulator Ipso.”

      The Mail is typically accurate whether its detractors like it or not – and normally those detractors just don’t like any publication that’s right-leaning and popular.

      NewsGuard is an attempt to scare advertisers away from publications that don’t get NewsGuard approval and so apply leverage to publishers. Let’s see how many black marks NewsGuard hands out to those media organisations that have pushed the Russiagate hoax for two years …

  2. Mike says:

    You can see where this is all going, once the porn block is in place, this will be next on the menu.

  3. The dictatorship says:

    “On the other hand the Government’s recent Online Harms White Paper has made no secret of its desire to tackle fake news and hate speech, which is one area where the aforementioned approach could find its niche.”

    Or translation, we want to control what you watch, read, see and do and will not tolerate anyone that dares disagree…. Not that they hate people with a differing opinion of course because no speech is hate speech as long as it follows what we order you to agree with.

    1. Optimist says:

      The dictatorship: Precisely so. I can judge for myself the trustworthiness of news sites. IMO, much of the legacy media such as the BBC peddle fake news at the moment. The alternative news sites are already under threat from legislation such as the EU copyright directive. Western governments are following the example of the USSR.

      There are parallels with the centuries following the introduction of the printing press which led to challenges to the authority of the state and church which reacted by clamping down on free speech, leading to political uphreaval.

    2. The Dictatorship says:

      “much of the legacy media such as the BBC peddle fake news at the moment.”

      No, no, no, the dictatorship funded media outlet is of course a credible news source.

      Every other news story is also as the BBC (and ITV for that matter) like to put it a “CRISIS”. Until a a few days days later when it is not and they move onto the next fun filled dribble of the month. This normally involves new buzz words which normally end in

  4. Bogmonster says:

    I installed the Chrome plugin so I could see what it turned up. I think the concept is interesting and tackling fake and miss-leading news is important. However, I am not sure that a self-appointed panel is necessarily best positioned to police the news. In general I agreed with their assessments but felt they were a bit too lenient on some news sources which skew reporting to be miss-leading. Being factual is fine but it is as much about what facts you report vs those you choose to ignore. I can’t really think of a better system for rating news and I will just rely on my own judgement and research, rather than relying on this system. In my opinion the Daily Mail is one of the most dangerous news outlets in the UK, it is very biased and can be very miss-leading in what it reports. I also feel that some of the opinion in it is morally questionable. But that is just my opinion and I am sure many see it in a different light – and there in lies the problem.

  5. Jigsy says:

    I need to stop reading news, to be honest.

    It makes me depressed and cynical; and isn’t good for my mental health overall.

    1. Mike says:

      You can ignore reality but reality won’t ignore you.

    2. Jigsy says:


      Ignorance is bliss.

  6. Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry says:

    This has as much chance to work as government porn censorship once DNS-over-HTTPS comes into play.

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