The Trust Project: Big Media and Silicon Valley’s Weaponized Algorithms Silence Dissent

Whitney Webb — Mint Press June 7, 2019

Trust Project founder Sally Lehrman speaks at the 2018 organization of News Ombudsmen conference. Click to enlarge

After the failure of Newsguard — the news rating system backed by a cadre of prominent neoconservative personalities — to gain traction among American tech and social media companies, another organization has quietly stepped in to direct the news algorithms of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

Though different from Newsguard, this group, known as “The Trust Project,” has a similar goal of restoring “trust” in corporate, mainstream media outlets, relative to independent alternatives, by applying “trust indicators” to social-media news algorithms in a decidedly untransparent way. The funding of “The Trust Project” — coming largely from big tech companies like Google; government-connected tech oligarchs like Pierre Omidyar; and the Knight Foundation, a key Newsguard investor — suggests that an ulterior motive in its tireless promotion of “traditional” mainstream media outlets is to limit the success of dissenting alternatives.

Of particular importance is the fact that the Trust Project’s “trust indicators” are already being used to control what news is promoted and suppressed by top search engines like Google and Bing and massive social-media networks like Facebook. Though the descriptions of these “trust indicators” — eight of which are currently in use — are publicly available, the way they are being used by major tech and social media companies is not.

The Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in favored news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives. Even if its effort to promote “trust” in establishment media fail, its embedded-code hidden within participating news sites allow those establishment outlets to skirt the same algorithms currently targeting their independent competition, making such issues of “trust” largely irrelevant as it moves to homogenize the online media landscape in favor of mainstream media.

The Trust Project’s director, Sally Lehrman, made it clear that, in her view, the lack of public trust in mainstream media and its declining readership is the result of unwanted “competition by principle-free enterprises [that] further undermines its [journalism’s] very role and purpose as an engine for democracy.”

Getting to know the Trust Project

 

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2 responses to “The Trust Project: Big Media and Silicon Valley’s Weaponized Algorithms Silence Dissent”

  1. “Though different from Newsguard, this group, known as “The Trust Project,” has a similar goal of restoring “trust” in corporate, mainstream media outlets, relative to independent
    alternatives, by applying “trust indicators” to social-media news algorithms in a decidedly
    untransparent way. The funding of “The Trust Project” — coming largely from big tech companies like Google; government-connected tech oligarchs like Pierre Omidyar; and the Knight Foundation, a key Newsguard investor — suggests that an ulterior motive in its tireless promotion of “traditional” mainstream media outlets is to limit the success of dissenting alternatives.”

    “suggests that an ulterior motive in its tireless promotion of “traditional” mainstream media
    outlets is to limit the success of dissenting alternatives.”

    Why, that’s preposterous! These honorable people would not have an ulterior motive! They are there to uphold truth and honesty and protect us from the ravages of fake news. We must send them our thanks, our thoughts, our prayers and our money!

    I’m going to organize a giant telethon to raise money for these wise fact checkers right after I’m done with the telethon to raise money for the beleaguered nuclear industry!
    “The Trust Project’s director, Sally Lehrman, made it clear that, in her view, the lack of public trust in mainstream media and its declining readership is the result of unwanted “competition by principle-free enterprises [that] further undermines its [journalism’s] very role and purpose as an engine for democracy.”

    Sally seems to be on the ball! The public is being misled by all these principle-free enterprises that undermine the role of journalism as an engine of democrazy! I trust her already! I’m going to send her some cashisch right away! Oh wait, they canceled my PayPal account…. for not conforming to community standards… Or well…. I mean oh well…

    Voltman

    P.S.:
    This is What Fake News Looks Like
    http://grizzom.blogspot.com/2018/08/this-is-what-fake-news-looks-like.html
    Also:
    This Is Extremely Dangerous to Our Democracy
    https://www.cryptogon.com/?p=52576

  2. I don’t believe they just rely on algorithms as this technology isn’t what its cracked up to be. I believe they rely more on people denouncing then reviewers go over the content. So who are these denouncers in an age of inquisition. I’d start with those Israeli orgs that were censoring those fighting for the Palestinians the only way they knew how years ago.
    Orgs like shin bet, Act.il,CAMERA and the Maccabee with over 300.000 Israeli students up their sleeve scouring the net especially whotube.