Without consulting with its users, Microsoft has installed an establishment media browser extension, purportedly designed to rate the accuracy of news websites, as a default extension on mobile versions of its Edge browser. In practice, it creates a news blacklist by warning users away from sites including Breitbart News, The Drudge Report, Daily Mail and the USA Politics Today.
The browser extension, called “Newsguard,” presents users with a red warning label if they navigate to a website that it judges to be unreliable. A “green” rating is given to websites that NewsGuard considers trustworthy.
A number of pro-Trump websites, including Breitbart News, are given a “red” rating by the extension.
The website of the conservative-leaning British newspaper The Daily Mail, which has the third-highest circulation in the U.K., is also given a “red” rating. Newsguard says the site “fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”
WikiLeaks, which has never had to retract a story due to false or misleading information, is also given a “red” rating.
Among the websites given a “green” rating is BuzzFeed, which was recently humiliated for publishing alleged details about the ongoing Mueller investigation that were contradicted by the special prosecutor himself. BuzzFeed did not retract the
Some left-wing sources are given “red” ratings by Newsguard. However, they tend to be on the anti-establishment side of Democratic politics: ShareBlue and the Daily Kos, for example, both have “red” ratings. Salon and the Huffington Post, however, do not.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Newsguard has a bias against independent and anti-establishment media though: the team behind the browser extension include top neocons and members of America’s foreign policy establishment, including Trump-hating former CIA director Michael Hayden, and former members of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.
Update — Microsoft replied to Breitbart News with the following statement:
“Microsoft is partnering with NewsGuard to offer the NewsGuard browser extension on Microsoft Edge, and a feature in Microsoft Edge mobile apps for iOS and Android to help our customers evaluate news sources. Across both the browser and the apps, NewsGuard is optional and customers need to take action if they want to use the feature.” – a Microsoft spokesperson