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NewsGuard Announces Canada Launch To Tackle Misinformation Online

NewsGuard’s ratings and ‘Nutrition Labels’ published for 90% of Canada’s online news, covering English and French speaking parts of the country.
Pro bono Media Literacy Partnership Program also available for libraries.
Half of Canadians have shared COVID-19 information online without knowing if it was reliable, showing need for a source rating tool.
Additional tool made available to brands, advertising agencies and ad tech companies to help them stop financing misinformation.

NewsGuard, a service that provides ratings and credibility scores for thousands of news websites to help citizens distinguish reliable sites from misinformation providers, announced its launch in Canada.

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Following successful launches in the US in 2018 and in the U.K., France, Germany and Italy in 2019 (with more than 7,000 websites rated so far), NewsGuard is bringing its solutions to Canada to help solve the problem of misinformation and disinformation online, without censoring any content.

“Democracy rests upon a strong and diverse news media, but the public good from journalism is disrupted by misinformation and disinformation,” said Edward Greenspon, President & CEO of the Public Policy Forum, and new member of NewsGuard’s global advisory board. “You can’t have an informed public in the digital age without first giving citizens the means to inform themselves about who is and is not trustworthy. That’s why I am so happy to see NewsGuard coming to Canada.”

NewsGuard’s human-curated Ratings and detailed Nutrition Labels, which initially will cover the news and information websites responsible for 90% of the news and information consumed and shared online in Canada (English-speaking and French-speaking) were published today, providing consumers with guidance on each site’s credibility.

“We are delighted to bring our tools to Canada, where misinformation and disinformation have hit hard over the past two years,” said Steven Brill, NewsGuard co-CEO. “We are committed to applying fully transparent, apolitical criteria to all news sources there, as we’ve done in all countries where we’ve launched, so that consumers can have a better understanding of what they read online. In doing so, we believe that we can help restore trust in credible media, who suffer from the rise of misinformation providers parading as legitimate news sites.”

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The launch comes at a critical time in Canada.

According to a study published in February 2021 by Statistics Canada, during the first months of the pandemic, 96% of people who searched for COVID-19 information online believe they saw false or misleading information. Half of them shared COVID-19 information without knowing if it was reliable, proving the need for a source rating tool like NewsGuard to navigate an ever more complex online information ecosystem.

“We censor nothing,” said NewsGuard co-CEO Gordon Crovitz. “But we provide information about who’s feeding you the news. How reliable are they? Do they have a hidden agenda? We’re starting with coverage of all the sites responsible for 90% of online engagement in Canada and will soon get to 95%. That means that with NewsGuard’s browser extension, the overwhelming majority of what users see in a Facebook feed, a Google or Bing Search, or on many other platforms will come with a NewsGuard trust rating. It also means that advertisers can use NewsGuard’s ‘exclusion lists’ of sites publishing misinformation and ‘inclusion lists’ of quality news publishers to make sure their money stops supporting hoaxes and supports legitimate news sites, including small local news sites and those serving disadvantaged communities – all of whom are on our humanly vetted inclusion lists.”

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The need for a product like NewsGuard has also been echoed by the government’s Digital Citizen Initiative, whose goal is to help Canadians build resilience against online mis-and disinformation and “to promote a healthy information ecosystem.”

Thanks to Microsoft’s sponsorship, NewsGuard, which was praised in a CNN report Sunday as ‘A Librarian For The Internet’, also launched today its Media Literacy Partnership Program in Canada, which will allow patrons of public libraries to engage critically with the news and information websites in their social media feeds and search results. “As we’ve seen in all corners of the world, disinformation poses a very serious threat to democracies,” said Marlene Floyd, National Director, Corporate Affairs, at Microsoft Canada. “Arming citizens with the tools necessary to evaluate the content they read online is critical to them making informed decisions today. That’s why we are delighted to sponsor NewsGuard’s media literacy program in Canada, and make its tool available for free to patrons of the country’s public libraries.”

Microsoft has a licensing agreement with NewsGuard that allows all of the users of its Edge browser to have access to the NewsGuard plug-in extension for free. Users of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari can subscribe to the NewsGuard browser extension for $2.95 a month here.

Those using the new Neeva search engine can see the NewsGuard ratings and Nutrition Labels automatically for no charge.

NewsGuard is in discussions with education officials in Canada to make its ratings and Nutrition Labels available to teachers and students at no charge to them in the near future.

As part of this launch, NewsGuard also announced today the addition of two Senior Advisors to its team and to its global advisory board, to help tackle misinformation while addressing the nuances of Canada’s unique media ecosystem.

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Edward Greenspon, President & CEO of the Public Policy Forum, and former Editor-in-Chief and Ottawa bureau chief of The Globe and Mail, is joining NewsGuard as Senior Advisor for English-speaking Canada and global advisory board member. He advises NewsGuard on the assessments of all of the nine criteria of journalistic practice that NewsGuard uses to rate each website, and he reviews all ratings and Nutrition Labels of English-language news and information sites in Canada.

Michel Cormier, Former Director of News at Radio-Canada, is joining NewsGuard as Senior Advisor for French-speaking Canada and as a global advisory board member. He advises NewsGuard similarly for French-language news and information websites. “I am delighted to advise NewsGuard as it brings its practical tool to Quebec and French-speaking Canada. The need to empower internet users and enable them to distinguish between responsible news outlets and misinformation providers has never been greater,” Cormier said.

After its launch with 90% of online engagement covered in Canada, NewsGuard will continue rating local news and information sites to reach at least 95% of online engagement in the country, a percentage it has reached in all its other markets (U.S., U.K., France, Italy and Germany). In addition, NewsGuard will deploy its rapid response SWAT team of journalists to identify newly trending websites that have not yet been rated because they have just been launched.

“We are proud to partner with such brilliant journalists in Canada as we take roots in this country,” said Chine Labbe, Managing Editor & Vice President Partnerships, Europe and Canada at NewsGuard. “As always, we wanted to make sure we reflect all the nuances of the country’s unique media landscape when doing our ratings. And for Canada, it was particularly important to us to make sure we worked with both French-speaking and English-speaking journalists.”
Stopping the Billions in Ads Going to Misinformation

In addition to informing internet users on the credibility of the sources they read online, NewsGuard also works with advertisers, agencies, and ad tech companies to help them steer ad dollars away from sites spreading false narratives – where they inadvertently send an estimated $2.6 billion a year through programmatic advertising—and instead direct their ads to trustworthy news sites. This launch will enable current partners of NewsGuard to add hundreds of reliable Canadian websites to their inclusion lists, thus adding valuable audiences to their clients’ ad campaigns and creating new sources of revenue for Canada’s high-quality news publishers.

“With the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation in the digital ecosystem, we see this as a key tool in our arsenal, giving our clients yet another lever with which they can have an improved, cleaner supply chain, and ensure their marketing dollars are working in the best and most effective manner in the Canadian marketplace,” said Jeff Thibodeau, President PMX Canada.

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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