Fighting the Infodemic: How a Browser Extension Separates Fact from Fiction

January 15, 2021

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

jane weber brubakerAs marketers, we spend time and resources to take full advantage of the internet. We want our content to show up at the top of the search results page. We want our brand to be trusted. We want our physicians to be the ones patients find and choose.

But as we’ve seen over the past 12 months, there are many competing voices. It’s becoming more and more difficult to tell fact from fiction. Even normally trusted sources of information have come under suspicion as competing forces seek to spin the facts to serve their interests. And as we all self-select our news sources, the “truth” becomes highly subjective. The divisions caused by competing realities were starkly apparent on January 6 in Washington, D.C.

Sarah Brandt, executive vice president of partnerships at NewsGuard

Sarah Brandt, executive vice president of partnerships, NewsGuard

A new company founded in 2018, NewsGuard, and its sibling product, HealthGuard, are giving internet users transparency tools to discern the reliability of online information.

In late August, the company announced a partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of WHO’s Infectious Hazards Management Department, stated in the press release: “It is vital that people everywhere get the right information at the right time to protect themselves and their loves ones. That’s why we are looking forward to working with NewsGuard and other platforms to fight misinformation and disinformation.”

SHCM spoke with Sarah Brandt, executive vice president of partnerships at NewsGuard, for this article. “HealthGuard includes more than 2,000 websites covering health topics,” she says. Each site is evaluated and scored by humans — experts in journalistic standards — based on nine criteria. “Instead of evaluating the veracity of an individual article or claim, we provide an assessment of the general reliability of new sources,” says Brandt.

As hospitals and health systems publish and distribute health care content to drive consumers to their websites, scoring high as a trustworthy source of accurate information could make the difference between a consumer choosing your physician or someone else’s.

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