NewsGuard claims to help combat fake news online and defend against “disinformation” but its links to the US government have caused some to call its objectivity into question.
In a tweet responding to the news that Microsoft has partnered with NewsGuard to add it as an extension to its Edge web browser by default, WikiLeaks claimed the news-rating app was “pushing US security state news imperialism across the world” and reminded users that WikiLeaks has a “perfect” record on accuracy. Since its beginnings, no documents published by WikiLeaks were ever found to be inauthentic.
In fact, buried within its lengthy warning label for WikiLeaks, NewsGuard actually admits that the site has never published fake information, saying that the information it has published has “never been shown to be fake” and that there are no confirmed cases of any published documents being “doctored” either.
NewsGuard browser extension rates news and information sites according to nine criteria, one of which is that a site “regularly corrects or clarifies errors.” WikiLeaks was given a red rating on this point, despite NewsGuard admitting that it has only ever published accurate information. WikiLeaks responded on Twitter to say that it does not regularly publish corrections “as a result of literally having nothing to retract.” WikiLeaks branded the extension “ridiculous” and slammed Microsoft for having “any association” with it.
NewsGuard was co-founded by Louis Gordon Crovitz, who has previously worked for the Heritage Foundation, a heavily conservative Washington-based think tank which pushes for US military action around the world. Crovitz himself has been accused by his own sources of publishing “fantastically false information.”
The browser extension, which bills itself as unbiased and objective, also has a former CIA and NSA director on its advisory board, as well as former US State Department officials and an ex-White House communications director. Skeptics of the NewsGuard app and its intentions have pointed out that, while it rates US government-funded websites with a ‘green’ label, it rates sites like RT and WikiLeaks with a ‘red’ label.