Consumers Union Launches Project to Assess Web Site Credibility
Consumers Union has launched the Web Credibility Project to focus on aspects of Internet information credibility, such as how health and other Web sites disclose the relationships they have with companies and products they cover or sell, the Wall Street Journal reports. The project intends to launch a Web site later this year, appoint journalists and e-commerce experts to an advisory board, form partnerships with groups such as the Online News Association and give awards to the "most credible" Web sites. Beau Brendler, the project's director, said the project is "about trying to find a way to get major media and major e-commerce folks -- people who have a real stake in making sure the Web is a credible place to do business -- to agree to a set of standards." The Journal reports that a main concern of the project is that consumers "don't always see potential conflicts of interest" in online information. For instance, the asthma Web site ibreathe.com at "first glance" appears to be an independent health information site, but actually is operated by GlaxoSmithKline PLC, maker of various asthma drugs. Glaxo spokesperson Lisa Behrens said that the sponsorship is "apparent" when consumers access the site, adding that "nothing" on the site suggests that it is third-party or independent information. However, Behrens said Glaxo is "open" to the project's suggestions. Consumers Union has received $4.8 million in grants for the project from Pew Charitable Trusts, the Knight Foundation and the Open Society Institute (Miles, Wall Street Journal, 6/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.