Finding trustworthy news in the internet haystack
The first iteration of the system is a free browser extension. As the reader opens an article, be it through a social media site like Facebook, a traditional newspaper online, or a political blog, the browser extension examines the article and renders judgment with a grade for trustworthiness. The Newsroom logo appears in green for trustworthy, yellow for medium trustworthy or red for misleading or inaccurate contents. If you click on the logo, you’ll get a detailed report card that explains how the assessment was reached.
“One of the elements that we realised was very important is this element of transparency,” Pedro says. “Another is plurality of sources, so in that assessment readers also get a list of suggested sources for further reading.”
The browser extension algorithm analyses an article by using five pillars: the sources, the author, the number of references and their quality, the key claims of the article, and whether the information is positioned responsibly.
“Right now, we use assessments from independent NGO companies that assess trustworthiness of news sources,” Pedro says. “Over time, we will be using our own insights to complements those.”
Another aspect of this browser extension is to collect data on how information —accurate or misleading — travels across the internet, and to share that with publishers and content providers in an effort to foster a healthier media landscape.
The Newsroom was a finalist in the 2021 Social Innovation Tournament. This contest was created by the EIB Institute to support entrepreneurs who are helping the environment and society. The Lisbon-based company, which began in December of 2020, has won several other fellowships and prizes.
A deep dive into current events
The company plans to introduce a subscription-model Trusted News app this year, with the exact cost yet to be determined.
“The idea is basically bridging the gap between trustworthiness and the new ways people consume news,” Jenny says. The new app will provide “an analysis of current topics and contexts and have a snapshot of current affairs. And then if people want to, they can deep dive — looking at historical context, what are the events that led to the news they are reading today, but also the current context. And what are the differences between different publishers on this specific topic? And more specifically, more and more importantly, what is common ground?”
Pedro and Jenny say that their experiences working for big tech companies played a role in their desire to find ways to foster a healthier media environment. At the same time, they both believe in the power of technology to do good.