Profiling Political Leanings by Browsing History

12:44 Fri 30 Apr 2010
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Slate has put together a tool that gives a very rough indication of a user’s political tendencies by checking which sites on a list the user has visited; each of the sites has a score based on readership by people with declared political affiliations.

It doesn’t actually read your browser history per se, instead just checking to see if you’ve visited the home pages of the sites on its list.

There are obviously many flaws with this approach, the first being the limitation to just two viewpoints, “liberal” and “conservative” (in the American senses). In addition, it can’t account for how you feel about any particular news source. And the list of sites it checks for is (almost inevitably) quite limited; a number of sites I visit regularly for news content don’t show up at all (counterpunch.com, for example). It would be far more interesting if the list of sites were larger—only 112 were used in the study that it was based on.

2 Responses to “Profiling Political Leanings by Browsing History”

  1. mollydot Says:

    It says I haven’t looked at any of the sites on its list!

    That’d be partly to do with mostly browsing on the phone, rather than this computer, but I do read links here too.

  2. mollydot Says:

    Now that I’ve actually looked at the list, and seen that Slate itself is on it, it must be that it’s not working for my browser/OS/settings combination (firefox on ubuntu)

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