Are Personalised News Aggregators Enhancing Our World or Echoing Our Biases? 

The Rise of Personalised News Aggregators 

The internet has evolved from a mostly static to a personalised experience. Machine learning and algorithms have personalised the web and news industry, leading to the emergence of personalised news aggregators. These aggregators compile and personalise news, but criticisms have emerged, challenging the foundation of news personalisation. This article explores these critiques and how aggregators are trying to address them. 

Personalised news aggregators employ algorithms to analyse a user’s interests, browsing history, clicks, and behaviours, using this data to recommend articles likely to be interesting. The process is dynamic, with ongoing analysis of user interaction with recommended content to refine and enhance personalisation. Notable examples include Apple and Google News.

The Pros and Cons of Personalised News Aggregators 

Dr Roselyn Du conducted a study in 2023 on the perceived advantages and disadvantages of personalised news aggregators. The results found that despite a general trust in algorithmic curation over human editors, users also have significant concerns with their use. Below are some results from the study.  


  • Personalisation and Relevance: Users appreciate the customisation of news feeds to their interests, leading to a more pleasant and engaging experience. 
  • Increased Accessibility: The ease of accessing a wide variety of news sources in one place enhances user satisfaction. 
  • Efficiency: News aggregators streamline staying informed by filtering content to match user preferences. 


  • Bias and Echo Chambers: There’s concern over being exposed only to viewpoints that reinforce existing beliefs, limiting exposure to diverse perspectives. 
  • Information Overload: Information overload in personalised news aggregators results from the flood of curated articles tailored to user preferences, often overwhelming users and making it challenging to navigate through or prioritise the news that matters most.  
  • Privacy Concerns: Tracking and analysing user behaviour for personalisation purposes raises privacy issues. 

Tackling Criticisms: Case Studies 

In addressing the critiques of personalised news aggregation, some platforms are adopting approaches to counterbalance their concerns. These efforts aim to refine the balance between delivering tailored content and ensuring a diverse, comprehensive news diet. Below, we explore strategies being deployed by news aggregators to address the public’s concerns.  

SmartNews, Newsadoo, and VRT: Reducing “Information Cocoons” 

When discussing how news aggregators are confronting criticisms, particularly the information of echo chambers, we can highlight the innovative strategies employed by platforms like SmartNews, Newsadoo, and VRT, a Flemish public broadcaster, to counter these information bubbles. 

SmartNews differentiates itself with a technology-driven approach, employing machine learning to sift through millions of articles while introducing features like a political spectrum slider. This tool aids users in understanding how different outlets cover the same story, fostering a more balanced perspective on current events. 

Similarly, Newsadoo combats echo chambers by showcasing diverse perspectives on the same event from multiple news outlets. This approach enables users to see how different media cover a story. By offering a comparative view of news reporting, Newsadoo exposes users to a broader spectrum of opinions, directly challenging the formation of echo chambers.  

VRT’s approach to broadening user tastes with recommendation algorithms focuses on expanding content exposure beyond habitual preferences, aiming to diversify users’ content consumption without overwhelming them. It employs metadata analysis and content-based filtering to tailor recommendations, starting with user preferences and gradually introducing varied content.  

These examples illustrate the spectrum of solutions being explored to mitigate the effects of echo chambers and bias in news consumption. Each platform’s unique approach contributes to a broader industry effort to deliver a more balanced and inclusive news experience. 

Flipboard and JAMES: Creating Finite Reading Packages 

In tackling the issue of information overload, personalised news aggregators are employing strategies to curate and streamline content, aiming for a balance between personalisation and manageability.  

The importance of finite editions in news publishing lies in their ability to foster habit formation among readers through structured, engaging content. Finite formats encourage a more focused and satisfying reading experience by delivering content with a clear beginning and end. This approach not only combats information overload but also supports the development of regular news consumption habits, leveraging curation, interactive elements, and a clean design to captivate and retain readers’ attention. 

For instance, Flipboard’s Storyboards are designed as finite collections, unlike their ongoing Magazines. This definitive curation aims to package content around specific themes, providing a structured narrative. By being finite, Storyboards help reduce the addictive nature of endless content scrolling, offering users a complete package of information that can be fully consumed, thereby setting clear endpoints to engagement. This approach aids in mitigating the overwhelming and addictive nature of constant information flow, encouraging more meaningful and focused content consumption. 

JAMES, an AI tool developed by Twipe in collaboration with The Times and The Sunday Times, plays a crucial role in addressing the challenges of information overload and information cocoons in news consumption. By individualising content distribution, JAMES leverages self-learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to tailor the news experience to individual reader preferences. It learns from user habits and preferences to expose them to relevant content and top trending articles, thus balancing personalised interests with general news. 

Both platforms are designed to offer users a balanced mix of current headlines and stories matched to their interests, utilising AI and machine learning to refine the feed over time based on user interaction. This approach helps ensure that the news consumption experience is broad and tailored to individual preferences. 


In wrapping up, it’s clear that the path to harnessing technology that can fully mitigate the downsides of personalised news aggregators is long and complex. The challenges of balancing information personalisation with the risks of echo chambers and privacy concerns are nuanced and multifaceted. As we navigate these waters, we can also question the feasibility of achieving truly unbiased news distribution when most news outlets have always had a certain leaning.  

That said, through continued innovation, critical examination, and collaborative efforts, there’s potential to refine these systems, making them more adept at serving the public’s need for reliable, diverse, and engaging news content. The journey toward achieving this balance is ongoing, and each step forward offers valuable lessons for the future of news consumption. 


Sarah Cool-Fergus

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