Study Reveals Differences between Stories Curated by Human Editors and Algorithms for Apple News Users

Currently, more than 125 million people use Apple News each month and the latest study published by Mac O’ Clock reveals key differences between stories curated by human editors and those curated by algorithms for Apple News users. Jack Bandy wrote a blog post on June 4 stating that if we check Apple News, we will find a ‘Spotlight’ related to the United States protests that feature a list of organizations where people can donate to support racial justice, educational resources, and rights for people participating in protests.

According to the Bandy, human editors curate these stories instead of an algorithm. Human editors as well as algorithms choose stories for over 100 million people each day who use Apple News. Apple News has reached 125 million monthly active users while a similar app, Flipboard has around 145 million monthly active users.

Last year, Mac O’ Clock collected stories from Apple News for 2 months. They collected 1,268 top-ranked stories curated by editors and 3,144 trending news stories curated by algorithms. According to Mac O’ Clock, humans select sources more evenly as compared to algorithms. Moreover, algorithms feature soft news stories.

One of the primary research questions was how sources were concentrated in Apple News. According to a study in the UK, 75% of news stories in Apple News came from only 6 news sources. Mac O’ Clock discovered that in the US, 50% of trending stories came from 4 most commonly selected sources by algorithms. In comparison, 32% of stories came from 4 most commonly selected sources by human editors.

The common sources selected by algorithms are CNN, BuzzFeed, People, and Fox News. Human editors selected these sources less frequently while the most common sources selected by human editors are The NY Times and The Washington Post. This indicates that algorithms might be selecting stories related to celebrities and various other soft news.

Mac O’ Clock discovered that human editors selected less soft news stories. According to their data, trending stories curated by algorithms tend to focus more on famous personalities or Mr. President. Human editors did not select a news story with Donald Trump’s full name in the headline of a story. The report provided by Mac O’ Clock indicates that human editors follow the news and focus on important topics from a diverse set of sources. Human editors were found valuable in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read next: Apple’s 8 Year Long Attempt to Replace Human Labor With Robots Fails Dramatically, Costs Millions
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