Periodic Reporting for period 4 - PersoNews (Profiling and targeting news readers – implications for the democratic role of the digital media, user rights and public information policy)
Période du rapport: 2020-02-01 au 2021-05-31
News personalisation can allow media companies to better serve their users by, for example, helping them deal with information overload or by serving them more interesting content. Monetizing the resulting increase in attention from users can also have financial benefits for the industry. However, the increasing personalisation of news also raises concerns about the interests of media users, the role of the media in society, and the media’s relationship with news readers. For example, what is the impact of AI and algorithms in newsrooms? What are the users’ concerns with regard to privacy or the diversity of the news they receive? Will personalization result in the creation of ‘filterbubbles’? Who controls the algorithm? And how can the media use AI and algorithms in a way that is responsible and respects the fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of expression?
In the PersoNews project, we combine legal and empirical research to answer these questions. We do surveys and talk to users to better understand their concerns but also where they may find personalization potentially useful. We interview journalists, technical experts in the media, and talk to regulators. These insights feed into the legal analysis where we inquire what the rights of users are, and if users need additional rights, but also how ‘algorithmic journalistic ethics’ could look like to guarantee that AI and data is used in the interest of users, society and the role of the media to inform.
In workpackage 2, we were among the first to perform in-depth interviews with newsrooms in Europe on how they use AI and algorithms to personalise news, but also: what the professional, economic and ethical considerations are when doing so.
In workpacakge 3, the focus is on the (fundamental) rights of users, in particular under freedom of expression law and the newly adopted GDPR.
Workpackage 4 has developped a unique normative framework to answer questions regarding explainability, and the information that the media should be required to provide to the audience, and the public.
Workpackage 5 has engaged in an extensive review of democratic theory and on the basis of these insights, what the democratic role of news recommendations can be. In the context of this framework we also developped the so far most advanced, normatively informed metrics for diverse recommender design, which we translate, in cooperation with media organisations, into a diversity toolkit that allows media corporations to assess the diversity of recommendations. We played an important role in testing the filterbubble hypothesis, and developing directions for future media law and policy to respond to the impact of AI and algorithms on media markets. We also had a prominent role in the debate about the regulation of platforms, and again, informed the debate with concrete suggestions for future policy. Because of our research and expertise, the Council of Europe commissioned us to summarize some of our main research findings in a report to the Ministerial Conference on 'AI and freedom of expression".