PERSO-NEWS- "recommended for you"

I am currently collaborating with the team at University of Amsterdam’s Institute for information law (IViR) on a fascinating multi-disciplinary research project on news personalization. They explain the focus of the research as follows on their website:

 “On the web, news media are profiling and targeting news users in order to serve users with news stories and advertisements that match their individual interests. For example, the New York Times has a section on its homepage titled “Recommended for you”. The section contains an automatically created selection of articles that are presumed to be of particular relevance for you. Elsewhere on its website, the publisher explains that “recommendations are based on the NYTimes content you have viewed recently. This information is available only to you.” This recommendation system is a form of news personalisation. Other news outlet, such as BBC News online in the UK, de Volkskrant in the Netherlands, or newer players like Facebook, are experimenting with the personalisation of news content as well.

News personalisation helps media companies to survive in a competitive digital environment and it may help individual media users to manage the information overload. However, it also raises questions:

How does the personalisation of news affects media users’ trust in the integrity of editorial content, and their ability to distinguish editorial content from advertising?

Is the collection of personal data relating to users’ reading behaviour lawful in all cases, and can readers still exercise their right to freely receive information and ideas?

Can we envision a new public role for the media in which they actively serve news users with diverse and important content, to prevent users from just reading about entertainment, sports, and the weather?”

My particular interest is in research on a legal and normative framework through which news personalisation can be assessed, and to what extent government could stimulate new media strategies for personalised, public interest content.

Watch this space!