Unreliable Sources / Reliability Research

Tools and datasets for identifying unreliable news sources, for researchers, reporters, and readers.

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Iffy.news houses tools for mis/disinfo research:

Latest Reliability Research

  • Mainstream media funds fake news
    When debunkers link to fake-news stories, they do more harm than good. There’s a right way and wrong way to cite unreliable sources. Most publishers use the latter.
  • Congress’ COVID-Positive Party
    Do partisan beliefs and behaviors affect COVID-19 infection rates? Maybe, at least among members of the U.S. Congress.
  • PolitiFact: Pols, Pundits, and Pant Fires
    This last of a three-parter compares the PolitiFact credibility of groups making political claims. The most truthful: comedians. The least: social media.
  • PolitiFact: All the Presidents’ Peeps
    Part two of the series, that turns PolitiFact-checks into credibility scores, calculates the truth ratings of people in the past three presidential administrations.
  • PolitiFact: Voters Face Facts
    Using PolitiFact-checks, we can compare the credibility of candidates and determine, from past elections, if voters tend to pick the more truthful candidate. (They do.)
  • Your State’s Been Pink-Slimed
    Tracking cross-country plink-slime sites that masquerade as local news, with an interactive USA map and a Slime by State table.
  • Who Funds Fake News?
    Fake news is a for-profit business, funded mostly by advertising, with revenue flowing from the biggest brands and adtech agencies into the coffers of clickbait, hate, and mis/disinfo sites.
  • Brands Behaving Badly
    Millions in ad dollars are helping spread COVID conspiracies, mostly without the the advertiser’s knowledge.
  • Bias vs. B.S.
    Bias doesn’t get a publisher into Iffy.news, only B.S. does. Iffy is blind to bias. However, when bias becomes B.S., data can help determine which direction bias most often turns.
  • The Iffy Evolution
    Why the Iffy.news Index exists, its CJR/Poynter past and its current MBFC-based improvements.

Iffy Index of Unreliable Sources

Misinformation thrives online, propped up by advertising dollars, political donations, and social media shares.

In scores of studies, researchers have tried to figure out how falsehoods spread. Their research often relies on lists of fake-news sources. However, those lists are out-of-date and full of 404s.

Better data means better results, for researchers, reporters, and readers. So I’ve built a better dataset:

The Iffy Index of Unreliable Sources is a resource for researchers needing a database of untrustworthy online sources, based on factual-reporting ratings by Media Bias/Fact Check, the professional news/info website reviewer.

The full Iffy index has data on 460 sites that regularly publish unreliable information, including clickbait, fake news, and unproven allegations. The table below lists a few of those Iffy sites, the ones with the most web traffic (by Alexa Global Rank).

Most-visited unreliable sources

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For each site, the factual-level (“low”, “very-low”) links to its MBFC site review. The arrow (Arrow: link to fack-check search) links to fact-checks of its articles. The “W” links to its Wikipedia article (if one exists).

The Iffy.news Index has details on each domain and the methodology used to interpret the data. To assess the credibility of a particular site or story, try the Fact-check Search tool.

Media Bias/Fact Check factual-reporting level
MBFC factual-reporting level