The Trust Project, which is hosted at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University and funded in part by Google, is working with news organizations worldwide to find ways for consumers to distinguish between real news and fake news.
They have released 8 “trust indicators” that publishers can attach to their content to reassure readers as to its legitimacy:
- Best practices: Publisher’s mission, funding, commitment to ethics, journalistic standards
- Author expertise
- Type of work: Opinion, analysis, sponsored, etc. vs. news reports
- Citations and references: Sources behind the story
- Methods: Why reporters chose to report this story, and how they went about it
- Locally sourced: If story has local origin, etc.
- Diverse voices
- Actionable feedback: How publisher engaged the public in the newsgathering and reporting processes
It’s intended that publishers will embed the trust indicators into the code of their stories using schema.org markup so that Google and other distribution platforms can identify and analyze the news content before delivering it to consumers.
(Schema.org is a collaborative community founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex to promote schemas for structured digital data.)
Planned next step is to find a way to display the trust indicators along with stories appearing in Google News, Search and other products.
I believe the intent of this project is admirable, but it’s one more intrusion by Google into other peoples’ lives and bank accounts. If this goes forward, the expenses of publishers that comply will increase, maybe significantly. And small publishers of legitimate news may be squeezed out of the market. That would be a shame.