Users download Spinoculars, a toolbar that sits atop the browser and lets readers know if the story they are reading has any phrases or words that indicate bias. (It works only in Firefox now and will work in Internet Explorer in a couple weeks.) It highlights those phrases in a big red box, and readers can click to find out what exactly SpinSpotter found wrong with the phrase.
The concept is novel, and considering our times, probably something many consumers would love to have. But, I have to say I don’t really see how its going to work. They will have to prove its effective and accurate first.
Desperately wanting to find spin, I went to the Silicon Valley gossip site, Valleywag, which makes no qualms about writing stories with its own snarky spin. Yet calling PR people “the most annoying people in our inbox” did not raise any red flags on SpinSpotter. Writing that Rupert Murdoch is “not going to have any luck recruiting an outsider to fill the spot” of MySpace China chief executive wasn’t spin either.
That is partly because SpinSpotter has started out with very few phrases in its database of spin, said Mr. Herman.