Huntsville teen wins on world stage with political bias tracking tool

The tool is currently designed to determine political leanings of Twitter accounts, but she hopes to one day expand its use for Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.

Posted: Oct 26, 2021 4:34 PM
Updated: Oct 26, 2021 7:21 PM

A Huntsville teen found out she won a worldwide competition in front of a national television audience Monday, beating out hundreds of other teens with her unique social media idea.

Sixteen-year-old Ella Duus is a junior at New Century Technology High School. She joined 99 other young people being honored with the inaugural 100 Rise Global award.

Duus will receive a lifetime of access to higher education scholarships, career development and funding. She will need the support, as her unique tool created to sniff out political bias on Twitter goes live soon.

"I just honestly didn’t believe it," Duus told WAAY 31 on Tuesday. "At first, I thought I misheard them. I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, there are only 100 winners, and I’m one of them.' It really shocked me."

Duus is a computer science guru, using her skills behind the keyboard to create a machine-learning-based tool.

“I wanted to create some sort of way for people to recognize the biases in content they see on their social media," Duus said.

Her PolyTweet tool will allow people to enter a Twitter user's name into the platform and gain insight into their overall political slant. Duus explained the process, saying it reviews natural language and emoji in the tweets, then returns a chart of the account. 

That chart reflects any political leaning, "so people can get a more neutral look at the bias of the content they are consuming," Duus said.

She hopes her tool can be applied to other social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram. 

“Hopefully, with Rise and their technology resources and the mentorships, I’ll be able to optimize this tool fully," Duus said.

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