In their bid to fight fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan ‘The Trust Project’. ‘The Trust Project’ is led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics. Starting from Friday, an icon will appear next to articles in Facebook News Feed.
When you click on the icon, you can read information on the organisations’ ethics and other standards, the journalists’ backgrounds, and how they do their work. “Leading media companies representing dozens of news sites have begun to display ‘Trust Indicators’. These indicators, created by leaders from more than 75 news organisations also show what type of information people are reading a” news, opinion, analysis or advertising,” the university said in a statement.
Each indicator is signalled in the article and site code, providing the first standardised technical language for platforms to learn more from news sites about the quality and expertise behind journalists’ work. “Google, Facebook, Bing and Twitter have all agreed to use the indicators and are investigating and piloting ideas about how to best to use them to surface and display quality journalism,” the university said.
German press agency DPA, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, the Independent Journal Review, Mic, Italy’s La Republica and La Stampa, Trinity Mirror and The Washington Post are among the companies starting to go live with “Trust Indicators” this month. The Institute for Non-profit News has developed a WordPress plug-in to facilitate broader implementation by qualified publishers.
“An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” Lehrman explained. The eight core indicators are: Best Practices, Author Expertise, Type of Work, Citations and References, Methods, Locally Sourced, Diverse Voices and Actionable Feedback.
New organisations like the BBC and Hearst Television have collaborated in defining the “Trust Indicator” editorial and technical standards, and in developing the processes for implementing these. “Quality journalism has never been more important,” said Richard Gingras, vice president of news products at Google. “We hope to use the Type of Work indicator to improve the accuracy of article labels in Google News, and indicators such as Best Practices and Author Info in our Knowledge Panels.”
“The Trust Indicators will provide a new level of accessibility and insight into the news that people on Facebook see day in and day out,” said Alex Hardiman, Head of News Products at Facebook. A growing number of news outlets are expected to display the indicators over the next six months, with a second phase of news partners beginning implementation work soon.