Discussion on: Global Scope Discussion (Jan 31)

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Tariq Ali

What if there was a Chrome extension or something that could somehow flag certain media as biased or potentially biased?

I think it's not only doable, but can be done fairly objectively. Use sentiment analysis to understand how positive or negative the article is towards certain topics. If the extension points out Article XYZ is very anti-Trump, well, there's your bias. I think AlchemyAPI would be a good choice for this type of sentiment analysis challenge, and I might even try to make such a program, just as a proof of concept.

There are three problems with my idea.

  • First, I'm assuming that every article is biased, and the goal is to identify what bias the article has. While I do agree with this assumption, it is, ahem, biased.
  • Second, I'm not sure whether disclosure will meaningfully help people deal with bias. It's possible that someone could use my extension to dismiss articles because "Oh, it has a 68% bias towards the word 'conservatism'", when the bias doesn't mean that the article is wrong.
  • Third, like all algorithms powered by machine learning, you may see rather strange and surpious results, pointing out biases about topics you might not even realize or care about ("This author is very biased towards dogs and against cats"). Could people be able to shift through the noise and only look at the biases on the topics that they care about?