Check news bias with a simple browser icon

I’m a big fan of Media Bias/Fact Check, a site that categorizes many popular news sources into categories across the political spectrum, as well as those that don’t fit into that spectrum. Thanks to Facebook and other social networks, people are constantly bombarded with false, partisan, and low-quality reporting, which causes them to retreat into their comfortable bubbles where facts are less important than what their side wants to hear. MBFC, an independent site run by Dave Van Zandt, uses a precise methodology to help make people more aware of these issues!

I do find it a bit inconvenient, though, to have to consult the website every time I come upon a new news source to get a feel of what its intentions might be. That’s why I’ve created the Official Media Bias Fact Check Icon, which you can install into Google Chrome or Firefox right now:

Screenshot of Media Bias/Fact Check icon in action.

A little icon will show up next to your address bar whenever you’re on a site within MBFC’s database. Click it to read about the bias of the site you’re visiting, as well as any notes about the specific source itself. You’ll see these icons:

  • L – Left Bias
  • LC – Left-Center Bias
  • C – Center (Least Biased)
  • RC – Right-Center Bias
  • R – Right Bias
  • PS – Pro-Science
  • CP – Conspiracy-Pseudoscience
  • S – Satire
  • Q – Questionable Sources

Under the hood, this extension pulls data from JSON files that I create by occasionally crawling MBFC, and matches the current domain to what’s in these files. In case you’re concerned that this extension is doing anything more than that, I’ve open-sourced the components:

I hope this extension serves useful! I’m sure many would have wanted something like this months ago, but MBFC itself has only existed for a little while! Enjoy!

12 thoughts on “Check news bias with a simple browser icon”

  1. Hi Jeffrey,

    I’m interested and would be interested to see how and if it works. I do not have a website, but am on FB a lot.

    Thanks for the posts about you and Anna. I’m interested in you and care about you both. Thank you for being a good cousin to Ben and Carol.

  2. Great extension Jeffrey. I have just started using it and love the concept and the execution of it. I had also only just come across the MBFC site today and found it to be the best of better than similar sites I have found in the past.

  3. I have a suggestion for this plug-in: it would be great if you could either extend it or create a similar extension to quantify medical sites.

    There are so many fake medical blogs and sites out there that it’s hard to tell what is and what is not based on actual clinical studies or hard medical science.

    1. Hi Tina,

      I only created the browser extension – the data comes from a different source, so you’d have to ask the guy running MBFC about that. He does have categories for pseudoscience and real science, though.

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