Plagiarism checker, content verifier to offer free media literacy tools

Turnitin, a plagiarism detection company, and NewsGuard, a browser extension created by NewsGuard Technologies, teamed up to help curb the spread of disinformation by offering its services to students and educators.

Turnitin users now have free access to NewsGuard’s browser extension and mobile apps, enabling them to read NewsGuard’s credibility ratings and detailed “Nutrition Label” reviews that provide background and context about the reliability of online sources.

With the extension installed, NewsGuard’s red and green icons indicating a source’s general trustworthiness appear next to links in search results and social media feeds. By hovering over each icon, students can read NewsGuard’s Nutrition Label for the source, which provides a detailed explanation of the source’s background, standards, and adherence to or violation of NewsGuard’s nine criteria.

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“Now more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic it is critical that students and educators can rely on accurate information from their sources,” said Valerie Schreiner, chief product officer at Turnitin. “Turnitin has always been committed to promoting integrity in research and writing. By working with NewsGuard, we now deepen that commitment by also offering our students and teachers a tool to help evaluate the integrity of the sources they are using.”

Media literacy skills

NewsGuard’s experienced journalists have reviewed the more than 4,000 news and information websites that account for 95% of online engagement, assessing the credibility and transparency of each source using nine apolitical criteria of journalistic practice.

“Media literacy skills are essential to a healthy democracy, but research shows us that students worldwide are lacking in these abilities,” said Sarah Brandt, VP of News Literacy Programs at NewsGuard. “By teaching students early how to assess the reliability of sources, and spot those that might be trying to deceive them, we can go a long way toward maintaining trust in media, institutions, and one another.”

Turnitin’s products are used by over 34 million students in over 15,000 secondary and higher education institutions in 140 countries to support academic integrity, to check for text similarity, to verify authorship, and to support teachers and students in developing original thinking skills. Those original research and writing skills include not only how to properly use and cite works, but also how to evaluate the credibility of sources.

Free access

NewsGuard recently temporarily removed the paywall for its browser extension, which costs $2.95 a month, in response to the “Infodemic” of misinformation that has proliferated in tandem with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. To use the tool for free now until July 1, 2020 visit this page. After July 1, schools and universities that use Turnitin will have free access codes allowing students and faculty to continue using NewsGuard at no cost until the end of 2020, with the option to extend free access until the end of the school year in 2021.

To learn more about the partnership, visit this page, which contains free resources to help educators incorporate media literacy lessons into their classes, including Turnitin’s Source Credibility Packet and NewsGuard’s COVID-19 Media Literacy Teacher Packet.