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23rd Jan 2019

Mail Online users warned site does not ‘maintain basic standards of accuracy’

The Daily Mail's website was rated the same as the Kremlin's Russia Today

Oli Dugmore

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06: Protesters gather outside the head offices of the Daily Mail on October 6, 2013 in London, England. The protest, which was organised by the People's Assembly Against Austerity, aims to condemn a perceived 'campaign of hatred' they claim is being pushed by the paper in the wake of the Ralph Miliband affair. (Photo by Dan Dennison/Getty Images)

The Daily Mail’s website was rated the same as the Kremlin’s Russia Today by NewsGuard

Visitors to the Mail Online via Microsoft’s Edge browser are being warned that the website does not “maintain basic standards of accuracy.”

The browser utilises NewsGuard, a service designed to identify and eliminate fake news. NewsGuard says the Mail “repeatedly publishes false information and has been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases”.

Mail Online is given a one star rating out of a potential five, the same as Kremlin mouthpiece Russia Today.

NewsGuard’s inclusion in the Edge browser, which is Microsoft’s successor to Internet Explorer, is a significant step having previously only been available as a downloadable plug-in.

The startup is run by former journalists and wants other tech companies to use it to combat disinformation. Cofounder Steve Brill told the Guardian criticism should be directed as his company, rather than Microsoft, if people are unhappy with its ratings: “They can blame us. And we’re happy to be blamed. Unlike the platforms we’re happy to be accountable.

“We want people to game our system. We are totally transparent. We are not an algorithm.”

“We spell out fairly clearly in the label exactly how many times we have attempted to contact the Mail. The analyst that wrote this writeup got someone on the phone who, as soon he heard who she was and where she was calling from, hung up. As of now, we would love to hear if they have a complaint or if they change anything.”

Microsoft’s collaboration with NewsGuard forms part of its “Defending Democracy programme.” It has no input on the service’s judgements.

A Microsoft spokesperson said: “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.”