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Microsoft's Edge browser warns you about fake news

Microsoft is helping you battle fake news on your phone: Its Edge browser now tells you how reliable sites are.

The company started installing the NewsGuard plug-in -- which you previously had to download manually -- on all mobile versions of the browser, as reported by The Guardian.

After turning on news rating in Edge's settings menu, you can see NewsGuard's shield icon in the browser's address bar whenever you visit a news site. Green indicates a reliable outlet, while red suggests you should be skeptical about what you read.

"Proceed with caution: this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability," it said of Russian news site RT.

You can tap the "the full Nutrition label" to learn more. In RT's case, NewsGuard noted that it's "the website of a leading Russian government propaganda effort."

The service highlighted that Mail Online (the website of Britain's Daily Mail tabloid) has "been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases," according to The Guardian.

Mail Online initially had a red shield, but the BBC reported Friday, Feb. 1, that it was switched to a green one following "discussions with a Daily Mail executive." However, NewsGuard said the outlet "still failed to gather and present information responsibly."

By contrast, The New York Times got a green rating and the label said it "exerts significant influence on national and international news and public debate."

The plug-in rates sites based on various criteria including repeated publishing of false content, deceptive headlines and methods of gathering information, in addition to revealing the site's ownership, credibility history and transparency.

Clear shields indicate that NewsGuard hasn't reviewed the site yet, but you can suggest they do easily -- just tap the submit option.

The company is staffed by trained journalists who "come from diverse backgrounds and have no political axes to grind," it noted on its site.

"We're delighted to be able to reach millions of people through Microsoft Edge for mobile, giving news consumers more information about the sources of news they see online based on basic journalistic criteria of credibility and transparency," Gordon Crovitz, one of NewsGuard's CEOs, wrote in an emailed statement.

"The objective is not to preclude access to any news content -- an approach that would conflict with our nation's free speech principles -- but rather to empower readers with additional information on the source and reliability of that content as they consume and/or share it," Tom Burt, Microsoft's corporate vice president for customer security and trust, wrote in a blog post when it first partnered with NewsGuard last summer.

Neither RT nor Mail Online responded to requests for comment. We've reached out to NewsGuard regarding the change to Mail Online's status.

Edge, which is shipping as part of Microsoft's Windows 10 Creators Update, held just over 2 percent of the browser market share in December, according to StatCounter. Google Chrome continued to dominate, with more than 62 percent.

First published Jan. 23, at 9:07 a. PT.
Update Feb. 1 at 4:58 a.m. PT: Adds that Mail Online's rating was changed from red to green.