CULTURE How do Chinese users feel about 'customized' news feed?


How do Chinese users feel about 'customized' news feed?


06:24, December 01, 2019


It has become a major trend that news feeds are selected by artificial intelligence algorithms. (Photo: VCG)

For news media of today, using or not using algorithms is becoming a question.

It is a major trend to let news stories be selected by artificial intelligence algorithms according to time, region, and in particular, clicks and viewing habits to target different individuals.

However, filter bubbles and online echo chambers do exist. Is a news story worth more of your attention solely because of higher relevancy? Is everyone really holding similar viewpoints, or those who don't are blocked outside the chamber? Hiding in the AI-tailored information bubble might be higher possibility of disinformation and risks of damaging critical thinking.

According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019, 55 percent of the combined sample now prefer to access news through search engines, social media, or news aggregators.

But China wasn't part of the combined sample in the report. Ahead of the 3rd edition of CGTN Global Media Summit, we took our questions to the street and asked Chinese people about their opinion on customized news feed curated by algorithms, instead of humans.

According to the answers of interviewees, the most frequently used "customized" news feed platforms are Toutiao, Tencent and, which were all created by the rising internet giants in China in recent years.

However, people's feelings towards these news feed platforms are quite complex and mixed. On the one hand, users can get access to the content that they are interested in. On the other hand, they think they should be able to get access to something else and choose what they want to read. An interviewee held the filtered information as biased.

For those who prefer the service, it is more convenient and efficient for them to get access to what they are interested in. And the more they read about a specific field, the more information related to that topic or issue they will probably receive.

Meanwhile, many interviewees also saw the downside of the "customized" service. As users' reading habits are captured by the artificial intelligence algorithms, they will only get access to the information they prefer to read, in which will limit their readings and narrow their scopes. People might become more and more subjective by reading the selected information.

It's also likely that some users will rely on the platform more than ever before, and gradually give up the opportunity to read something else out of their normal scope.

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