Detecting Bias in Internet Sites

 

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion—but not their own facts.”

--Daniel Patrick Moynihan

 

Red Flags for Fact-checking

 

Questions to Ask of Any Resource

            Authority

Who is the author of the site? Don’t look for a candidate’s position on the opponent’s website.

                        What are the author’s credentials?

                        How knowledgeable is the author?

                        Who is the sponsor of the site?

                        What is the purpose or intent of the organization?

            Content

                        What is the scope of this resource?

                        Is the material free of errors?

                        Can you verify the sources of factual information?

                        To what extent is the material meant to persuade?

                        Is the page promotional?

                        Could advertising influence the content?

                        Who is the intended audience?

                        Is the information available in other formats?

            Currency

                        When was the site last updated?

                        Are the links current, accurate?

                        Does it rely on the most current available information? If not, why not?

            Format and Presentation

                        Is the information easy to get to?

                        Do the images enhance the material or distract from the content?

                        Is the arrangement of links uncluttered?

            Cost and Accessibility

                        Is the site available on a consistent basis?

                        Is this a fee-based site?  If so, where does the money come from?

                        Must you register before using the site? You may get spam.

                        Does the site rely on advertising to pay for itself? Might this affect its views?

When Fact-checking

            Go to the source

            Get the full context

            Confirm against other sources

            Get analysis from objective, authoritative reporter

 

Use of Statistics and Polls

            Go to the source

            What were the questions?

            Who was asked?

            When was the data gathered?

            Are older figures available for comparison?

            Are figures interpreted correctly?