Disinformation study group finds news rating agency useless

A new study Friday revealed that even New York University researchers found no benefit in NewsGuard, a popular pro-censorship browser extension, offering consumers the ability to identify misinformation while successfully directing readers to other sites deemed credible by the agency’s censors.

A team of scholars from the Center for Social Media and Politics at New York University (NYU) studied the news rating agency with a survey of more than 3,000 participants who downloaded the extension. Researchers found that readers whose news diets were of “high quality” consistent with NewsGuard ratings were no more likely to accurately answer questions related to the Black Lives Matter movement or Covid-19 than those who otherwise relied on “lower quality” sources.

All respondents were asked to “judge the veracity of five widely circulated statements” on the two topics, three of which were false and two true. NewGuard’s intervention, however, “had no effect on belief in misinformation about the BLM movement and COVID-19, and it did not measurably affect belief in the true statements.”

NewsGuard may have had a limited impact on some users’ traffic to websites deemed untrustworthy by the news rating agency, but it did implement a news social credit system. Although the researchers did “not find that random exposure to in-browser source trustworthiness information deflects online consumption of news from untrusted publishers,” they did find “evidence to suggest a significant improvement in quality of information among the biggest consumers of disinformation”.

NewsGuard’s credibility scores remain subjective, depending on “trained journalists” who deemed dissenting opinions unacceptable. Websites declared unreliable include organizations that correctly reported on the biggest election scandal of 2020, the Hunter Biden laptop, while groups that dismissed the story as Russian disinformation maintain perfect ratings. Politics, NPRand The New York Times maintain a favorability score of 100/100 on their “nutrition label” while SCS comes in 95/100, docked five points for simply concealing the authors’ names on some pieces. The New York Postin contrast, suffers a failing grade of 69.5/100, and The Federalist is even lower at 12.5/100.

NewsGuard is promoted in schools as a medium for media literacy despite downgrading websites deemed more reliable than legacy institutions on big stories, from the Hunter Biden laptop to concocted stories of the 2016 Russian collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, so that the New York Times and the Washington Post won Pulitzers.

The partners from the news rating agency include the Department of Defense, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Microsoft.


Tristan Justice is the Western correspondent for The Federalist. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured in Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan is a graduate of George Washington University where he majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at [email protected]

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