Google, Facebook and Twitter will now show “trust indicators” with news links so that users can identify how trustworthy a news source might be. They will join around 75 news organisations in the “Trust Project”, which aims to make news more transparent.

Several news organisations, including The Economist and The Washington Post, will display eight trust indicators with their stories this month, the Trust Project said in a release on Thursday. Readers can also access the indicators when reading links shared on Facebook, Google or Twitter.

The organisations will show readers details on

  • the news outlet’s funding, mission, ethical commitments, diversity in voices and accuracy;
  • the journalist’s credentials, expertise and past work;
  • whether the work is news, opinion, analysis or sponsored content;
  • sources behind the facts mentioned in the story;
  • information on why and how the reporter pursued the story;
  • whether the story has local inputs;
  • what efforts the newsroom makes to bring in diverse perspectives; and
  • what efforts the news outlet makes to engage the public and take feedback.

“In today’s digitised and socially networked world, it’s harder than ever to tell what’s accurate reporting, advertising, or even misinformation,” said project founder Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

“An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story,” Lehrman added.

Google said its next step is to figure out how to display the indicators on Google Search and Google News while Facebook has already started to display those with a small group of publishers.

Political and media observers have been concerned over the increased incidence of fake news across the world in recent years, which they say has influenced voters’ political beliefs and their trust in the news they read. Facebook and Twitter have been criticised for not doing enough to counter fake news being shared on their platforms, especially during the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.