Microsoft's mobile Edge browser will now alert you when you consume fake news

Microsoft mobile Edge browser now includes NewsGuard extension to issue fake news warnings.

In a bid to curb the spread of fake news on mobile, Microsoft has started to flag fake news sites via its Edge mobile browser. For this, the Redmond-based company has partnered with NewsGuard to warn users about fake and ‘untrustworthy’ news sites.

Microsoft adds NewsGuard to its mobile Edge browser to fight fake news. Image: Reuters

Microsoft adds NewsGuard to its mobile Edge browser to fight fake news. Image: Reuters

The feature previously available as a desktop plug-in, as the NewsGuard extension, will now be included in Microsoft’s mobile Edge browser for Android and iOS as well. NewsGuard rates new sites based on several criteria including repetition of false content, misleading headlines, transparency, etc. While Microsoft offered an ‘optional’ NewsGuard extension for the desktop version of Edge, the feature is now directly built into the mobile version. Reports suggest that the update is rolling out in a phased manner and that Edge users should receive a notification about the new service soon.

To enable NewsGuard, users will have to turn on the news rating option within the mobile Edge browser's Settings menu. According to an Engadget report, the feature once enabled shows a rating icon in the address bar. A Red rating icon indicates that it is unreliable while a Green icon indicates that the news site is trustworthy and maintains "basic standards of accuracy and accountability". Clicking on the green badge presents an option referred to as a “nutritional label” that enables a user to review the news site. The "nutrition label" provides relevant information about a site including ownership, financing, content and credibility.

“Safe browsing includes providing our customers access to solutions that can help avoid misleading content, and so we are delighted to be able to provide NewsGuard’s tools within the Microsoft Edge mobile apps,” Marc Wautier, Group Program Manager, Microsoft about the program in a NewsGuard press statement.

Reports suggest that the editorial approach in NewsGuard is quite similar to that of services like Flipboard and Apple News, which try to eliminate fake news and put quality-rich content in the top slot.

Microsoft’s Edge browser is not as popular as Chrome and Safari, if the stats are to be believed, however, reports state that Microsoft is trying to be proactive and significant. Notably, Microsoft announced its “work” with NewsGuard as a part of its Defending Democracy Program in August last year. The Defending Democracy Program works with stakeholders including government, NGOs, industry, etc. in democratic countries to defend against disinformation campaigns, increasing 'political advertising transparency' online and protecting 'electoral processes' and so on. The company back then introduced a browser extension for Edge’s desktop version on Windows 10.

While Microsoft is taking steps to reduce the spread of low-quality information online, social platforms including Facebook are also taking steps to curb the spread of rumours and fake news. WhatsApp recently announced that it is globally limiting the number of times a user can forward a message via the platform in a bid to slow down the spread of fake news. The new forwarding limit has been pushed via an update to WhatsApp users globally starting 21 January. Meanwhile, Facebook is said to be working to prevent removed pages from duplicating their content and re-establishing themselves as a new page.

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