SANTA CLARA, CA: Google, Facebook and Twitter have joined forces with a number of major news organisations to introduce a new set of transparency standards to help consumers assess the quality and reliability of their content.

They have agreed to adopt eight core trust indicators that have been recommended by The Trust Project, a 75-strong industry consortium based at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

The indicators include information about the journalist writing a news story, sources, whether it is news, opinion or sponsored content, as well as commitments to ethics, diverse voices, accuracy and making corrections.

Each indicator is signalled in the article and site code, which The Trust Project said provides the first standardised technical language for platforms to learn more from news sites about the quality and expertise behind journalists’ work.

A series of major publishers have already agreed to implement these trust indicators this month and they include The Economist, The Globe and Mail, Italy’s La Repubblica and La Stampa, and The Washington Post, among others. Other members of the consortium are expected to follow suit in the coming months.

“In today’s digitised and socially networked world, it’s harder than ever to tell what’s accurate reporting, advertising, or even misinformation,” said Sally Lehrman, the award-winning journalist who set up the project in 2014.

“An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” she added.

Meanwhile, several digital platforms aim to incorporate the trust indicators into the way they display news stories. For example, starting immediately, Facebook will start rolling out a new feature for publishers to provide additional context on the articles users see in their Facebook News Feed.

As for Google, Richard Gingras, its VP of News Products, said: “Partnering with the Trust Project since its conception has been of significant importance to Google, in large part because we believe the indicators can help our algorithms better understand authoritative journalism – and help us to better surface it to consumers.

“We hope to use the Type of Work indicator to improve the accuracy of article labels in Google News, and indicators such as Best Practices and Author Info in our Knowledge Panels.”

Sourced from The Trust Project; additional content by WARC staff