In drumming up some more attention for News Sniffer, I e-mailed the Biased-BBC blog which then linked us in a posting. Some comments on their post brought up the issue of News Sniffer Bias. Here is a quick response I put together:
I designed News Sniffer in order to help uncover bias in whatever form. I do have what might be described as “lefty” ideals, but I have no intention of fiddling the results (though the irony of the situation would not be lost on me :)
I guess my bias does show in which news organisations I’ve chosen to monitor (BBC, The Guardian, The Independent). All generally regarded as the “liberal” media.
News Sniffer’s current recommendation system is flawed though and very much open to bias. For example, if only smelly lefties visit the site and vote on censored comments and revisions then top recommended stuff will very likely be left-leaning.
I’m looking to replace this with more of a categorisation system, where users tag things with keywords rather than vote.
Additionally, I plan to release the code of the program under a free software license. This will allow anyone (with the know-how) to run their own News Sniffer and monitor their own news sources. Then people don’t *have* to trust me.
Whether you like it or not, it’s undeniable that there are valid topics that are completely unmentionable in *any* of the corporate media. Media Lens investigates some great examples of these. I hope that News Sniffer will help find examples of the bias towards this, whether considered in favour of the “Left” or “Right”.
At the end of the day, censorship in my favour is still censorship. News Sniffer is supposed to be about exposing censorship, not creating more of it.