Newsguard, an online tool that rates and ranks news websites for credibility and transparency, is adopting a subscription model which means it will no longer be free to use.
The US start-up launched in the UK nine months ago, assigning a “green” (pass) or “red” (fail) rating to every major news website according to how many of its nine criteria were met.
It drew controversy over its decision to give Mail Online a red rating, on a par with Russian state-backed news services RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik, but later admitted its mistake and amended it to green.
The tool sits as an extension in web browsers, showing a red or green badge icon next to a website in search engine results and on social media feeds. It has been free to use since its launch.
But in a message to early adopters, Newsguard said it will become a “paid, member-supported” tool early this year, with new premium features to be rolled out, including a reliability score and along with a new mobile app.
Membership will cost from £1.95 per month and will offer members summaries on who owns a news website, its political leaning and more detail on why it passed or failed its criteria.
Newsguard said it will also introduce warnings on websites carrying hoax healthcare information, conspiracy theories, ads posing as news and political propaganda funded by campaigns.
Newsguard has ranked more than 200 news websites in the UK, including a couple of dozen belonging to local newsbrands – and Press Gazette.