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Daily Mail website not trustworthy, says Microsoft Edge plug-in


Daily Mail website not trustworthy, says Microsoft Edge plug-in

It may be the second most purchased daily newspaper in the UK, and one of world’s top 10 most popular news websites, but a plug-in adopted by Microsoft’s browser has ranked Mail Online at just one out of five for credibility.

Microsoft Edge (the replacement for the browser traditionally known as Internet Explorer) has recently adopted NewsGuard, a plug-in that uses trained journalists to assess news websites and award them a rating based on nine criteria. Sites determined to be trustworthy and transparent are awarded a green rating, while those on the opposite end of the spectrum are given a red rating.

The Mail Online has found itself labelled as failing to adhere to “basic standards of accuracy and accountability”. Among the criteria on which it has fallen short are:

– Repeatedly publishing false content
– Presenting information irresponsibly
– Giving deceptive headlines
– Failing to differentiate between news and opinion

By being ranked a red website, The Mail finds itself in such company as:

– Sputnik – the Russian state-owned news website once described by ForeignPolicy.com as “the BuzzFeed of propaganda”
– Daily Kos – a left-wing American political blog that shares user-posted anti-Republican Party content
– InfoWars – run by far-right conspiracy crackpot Alex Jones and widely described as a ‘fake news website’

For the Mail Online to be bracketed in with sites like the above raises interesting questions about standards of journalism in the UK, and whether indeed we should view popular sources like The Mail as not only having a strong and distinct editorial stance, but actually as being guilty of providing fake news.

It is, after all, not the first time the Mail has had its reliability brought into question. Two years ago, Wikipedia decided it would no longer be treating the publication as a ‘reliable source’, with Wikipedians branding it “yellow journalism” and describing it as a “mouthpiece” for the then editor Paul Dacre.

This latest development has not gone unnoticed by the activist group Stop Funding Hate, which has campaigned against what it sees as hateful and divisive media such as The Daily Mail, The Daily Express and The Sun. It has even succeeded in persuading company like Lego to stop advertising in these sources.

Not surprisingly, the news has been less warmly received by The Daily Mail itself, which describes NewsGuard’s ranking as an “egregiously erroneous classification” and wants the matter resolved. NewsGuard claims, however, that it has contacted The Mail previously about the ranking and did not receive a response.

The matter may not be finished yet, but this reminds us that just because a news source is popular, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s accurate, and that we should not take anything we read online as gospel just because it comes from a recognised publication.

John Murray

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