Eyeo, the company behind the Adblock Plus ad blocker, has created a browser extension to combat fake news.
Called “Trusted News,” the product is designed to identify and alert users of questionable content by assessing the trustworthiness of each news source visited on a Chrome browser.
Currently in beta, the tool works by checking domains, websites and news sources against five fact-checking databases, including: Politifact, BuzzFeed, Snopes, Melissa Zimdars and Wikipedia.
When asked why the creators of Adblock Plus wanted to offer this extension to tackle fake news, Ben Williams, senior director of ecosystems at Adblock Plus, called the product “a passion project” of the company, and specifically of the husband-and-wife team at Eyeo, Misha and Aaron Thornburgh.
“Trusted News fits into Eyeo's mission to ‘put you (consumers) in control of a fair, profitable web’ because it informs users of a source's trustworthiness based on third-party determinations, while leaving the ultimate control in the individual's hands.”
In other words, “it empowers users online,” Williams said. The company is pursuing the project “slowly,” he noted, and as a “side project” for now. Not every site can be labeled by the extension yet.
“But if consumer feedback is good and demand exists, we will continue producing it,” Williams added.
The Trusted News extension is free for users. “We will not monetize it in any way,” Williams said.
Eyeo used MetaCert as the data provider for Trusted News. MetaCert works to protect companies from data loss by warning them of malicious and unwanted URLs. The MetaCert Protocol tool, in particular, is an anti-fraud and URL registry that pulls data from several sources — including PolitiFact and Melissa Zimdars — to identify content across a variety of categories, such as "fake news," "far left" and "far right," according to a blog post by Aaron Thornburgh.
The Trusted News extension lives as an icon in the browser toolbar. It displays its labels like a traffic light: green means trustworthy, orange is biased and red is untrustworthy.
When the extension is expanded in the browser, users can see which data sources were used to give it that label.
The product also uses labels like "satire," "malicious" (websites that are known to distribute viruses or malware), "clickbate," "user-generated content" and "unknown" (too little or no data to assign any label to the site).
The features also works on social platforms, such as official Facebook pages.