Thursday 21 February 2019

Microsoft warns users 'Daily Mail' UK site 'an unreliable news source'

A general view of a clock on the side of Northcliffe House, where the offices of British newspapers the Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday are located. Photo: Getty Images
A general view of a clock on the side of Northcliffe House, where the offices of British newspapers the Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday are located. Photo: Getty Images
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Microsoft is warning internet users that the 'Daily Mail' UK website is now an unreliable news source that "fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability".

Visitors to the 'Daily Mail' UK website who use Microsoft's Edge browser are now greeted with a notice that the site "regularly publishes content that has damaged reputations, caused widespread alarm, or constituted harassment or invasion of privacy".

The move is part of an effort by tech companies to cut down on access to misleading and fake news sites. Microsoft is applying the same warning to the websites of the US newspaper the 'National Enquirer' and the right-wing conspiracy website 'Infowars'.

The warning has infuriated the British tabloid, which has the third highest web traffic of any newspaper in the world.

A spokesman told the BBC that the paper was contesting the fact-checkers' conclusion.

"We are in discussions with them to have this egregiously erroneous classification resolved as soon as possible," said the spokesman.

The warning comes on mobile versions of Microsoft's Edge browser. It is based on a partnership with NewsGuard, a company set up to fight fake news.

NewsGuard "uses journalism to fight false news, misinformation and disinformation," according to the company.

"Our trained analysts, who are experienced journalists, research online news brands to help readers and viewers know which ones are trying to do legitimate journalism and which are not."

Microsoft Edge has a much smaller share of the global web browser market than more common services such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

However, the NewsGuard service is available as a downloadable extension for these larger browsers.

It's not the first time that major online information services have criticised the 'Daily Mail', which has a daily print circulation of 30,000 in Ireland. In 2017, Wikipedia restricted the newspaper from being used as a reference for the online information site, labelling it as an "unreliable source". Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has publicly criticised the paper for stories on Brexit and UK immigration.

But the move will also raise questions over the suitability of web browsers and technology firms to adjudicate on the validity or legitimacy of media content.

It will also add tension to the strained relationship between large media companies and the tech industry, with many major publishers still angry at the biggest web companies for cornering the online advertising market.

Irish Independent

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