by Erin Elizabeth, Health Nut News:
Americans’ trust in the media is at an all-time low. According to a 2017 Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy by the Knight Foundation, 43 percent of Americans have a negative view of news media compared to 33 percent reporting a positive view, while 66 percent believe “most news media do not do a good job of separating fact from opinion.”
Seventy-three percent believe the proliferation of “fake news” on the internet is a major problem, and only half feel confident that readers can get to the facts by sorting through bias.
However, individual perception about what is true and what actually constitutes fake news varies. As reported by Medium, “A majority of Americans believe people knowingly portraying false information as if it were true ‘always’ constitutes fake news.”
NewsGuard — The New Strategy Used to Deceive You
All of this brings me to the topic at hand, and the strategy the media is using to restrict your access to the truth from websites like mine, namely the latest self-appointed arbiter of trustworthiness in online media, NewsGuard. According to the group’s website:
“NewsGuard uses journalism to fight false news, misinformation and disinformation. Our trained analysts, who are experienced journalists, research online news brands to help readers and viewers know which ones are trying to do legitimate journalism — and which are not.
Our Green-Red ratings signal if a website is trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods or propaganda.”
Currently, the NewsGuard “SWAT team” is only focusing on U.S.-based media brands, but is planning on expanding “to serve the billions of people globally who get news online.”
In other words, NewsGuard is setting itself up as the self-appointed global arbiter of what information is “trustworthy” — based on nine “credibility and transparency” factors — not only for information viewed on private electronic devices, but also for information accessible in public libraries and schools. Librarians will even provide instructions to patrons on how to install the NewsGuard extension on their personal computers, tablets and cell phones.
Once you’ve installed the NewsGuard browser plugin on your computer or cellphone, the NewsGuard icon rating will appear on all Google and Bing searches and on articles featured in your social media news feeds:
These icons are meant to influence readers, instructing them to disregard content with cautionary colors and cautions. While the warnings may be enough to prevent someone from clicking these links, I believe the true intent will be to bury this content entirely from search results and social media feeds.
It is very likely Google, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms will use these ratings to lower the visibility of content — making nonconformist views disappear entirely.
NewsGuard’s Own Transparency Is Wanting
Fake news is certainly a problem. But determining who should have the final word on credibility and what is “truth” is not a simple one. Who is going to verify the credibility and transparency of the verifiers, i.e., NewsGuard?
It was hard to believe multibillion-dollar companies would rely on the likes of Snopes or Web of Trust to be the guardians of truth and credibility, and in fact they didn’t. Over time, most people using the internet learned to disregard article and website ratings dispensed by either Snopes or Web of Trust.
But now, enter NewsGuard, which for all its promises to vet any and all independent online media for conflicts of interest, credibility and transparency, apparently does not expect you to put them under that same scrutiny. On NewsGuard’s United States Securities and Exchange Commission Form D filed March 5, 2018, there is an option for disclosing the size of its revenue, but that box was checked, “Decline to disclose.”
Shouldn’t a corporation setting itself up as the judge and validator of the transparency of others be 100 percent transparent as well? NewsGuard also claims a Rule 506(b) exemption, which among its benefits allows for an unlimited amount of money to be raised from an unlimited number of accredited investors.
Well, in doing some digging of our own, aside from internet giants Microsoft and Google — one of the largest monopolies in the world — it appears NewsGuard is backed by companies that are presently involved, or have been in the past, in advertising and marketing of pharmaceutical products, cigarettes and unhealthy junk food to kids.