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A new feature on the mobile version of Microsoft’s Edge web browser has flagged the entire Daily Mail website, Mail Online, as fake news.

The site has been given a credibility rating of one out of five by Newsguard.

Visitors see a statement asserting that “this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability” and “has been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases”.

That is certainly This Writer’s experience of that website, although Mail Online wasn’t forced to pay damages to me. I wonder how I missed out on that? Perhaps I’m not rich enough already and didn’t have enough clout.

According to The Guardian, “NewsGuard is run by news industry veterans and says it is trying to establish industry-standard benchmarks for which news websites should be trusted. It employs analysts to manually check whether sites meet a series of journalistic standards, making all its judgements public and inviting outlets to respond to criticism and improve their standards to gain a higher rating.”

Some believe this may lead to legal action between Mail Online and Microsoft:

But there is a strong precedent for the rating. My case is just one example; the website Tabloid Corrections has found that the Mail is the most unreliable news source in the UK for the third year in a row, having been sanctioned more times by press regulator IPSO than any other title.

The site states: “The right-wing tabloid is the worst offender for the third year in a row, chalking up 28 offences in 2018. This puts it ten clear of The Times, which moves up three places to 2nd with 18 sanctions. The Sun stays at 3rd with 16, then the Daily Mirror with 10, the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph with 7 each, and the Daily Star with 4.

“Almost all of the offences involved inaccurate reporting. Four of the Mail’s and two of The Sun’s violations didn’t involve accuracy of reporting and were against other clauses of the Editors’ Code of Practice (e.g. invasion of privacy, harassment).

“Although the Mail is the worst performer, it has improved on 2017 in terms of number of offences. Last year, the paper broke the rules 50 times. The bad news for the Rothermere-owned publication is that its total for this year would still have placed it first in both 2016 and 2017.”

I don’t think Mail Online will suffer much as a result of this – because I think most people consider it little more than a humour comic in any case. They read it to laugh at the nonsense. And, sadly, some read it to ogle the images in the extremely sexist newsroll down the right-hand column of that site’s layout.

As I write this, the BBC’s Politics Live has been covering the issue of fake news – without mentioning the Mail Online case once. Instead it focused on a Facebook post that claimed to refer to the UK Parliament but had its origins in the US political system. It’s perfectly reasonable to do so, although the omission is questionable.

The issue is one that This Site has highlighted recently – that anyone claiming to quote facts about political issues must provide proof, usually in the form of references to their sources. Then readers can check those sources.

If there aren’t any references then you assume the claim isn’t true – and draw your own conclusions about the person or organisation making it.