Updated: Mar 31, 2020
Sometimes you have to set out to save the world yourself. Theresa Weber-Qvarfort saw the
mediasphere move in a direction of polarisation and misinformation - away from the journalistic ideals of honesty, integrity and ethics. With the Ansofy news App, she wants to change the world of news consumption, using revolutionising AI technology to combat fake news and a truly innovative user experience. Here, she tells the story of where her journey began, and where it will take her.
Access to objective and honest news shouldn’t be a luxury. But with paywalls popping up as a response to decreased income, newspapers everywhere are turning it into one. Additionally, fake news is becoming a real problem.
Theresa’s idea for Ansofy came with a personal experience that almost every online news consumer today will recognise. In order to access an article she wanted to read, she had to sign up for a local newspaper subscription. She tried numerous strategies with the editor; offering to pay for the article itself, offering to pay for an entire hardcopy newspaper and postage, offering to pay for a time limited access solution. Unfortunately, the large media corporation the newspaper was part of had made it impossible to offer anything other than a monthly subscription for the digital content Theresa wanted to access.
- It’s not just a matter of paywalls in and of themselves. It’s the larger societal challenge that boils down to information access. What’s going to happen if all well-written, independent, thoroughly researched journalism is locked up? And also, with the enormous amount of information that’s out there, how are readers going to avoid feeling overwhelmed?
Parallel to this information challenge, Theresa was also aware of the issue of fake news-writing intended to misinform its readership - and its impact on the audiences that potentially can’t afford or don’t prioritise newspaper subscriptions. She needed to create something that solved both problems in one. A platform where users could access the information they wanted in the endless flow of publication sources across the globe. And a platform where the news enthusiasts could feel confident that what they were reading was objective and accurate.
- The answer was quite simple, really. I would give power of readership back to the reader, and do it with transparency and honesty. So on one hand, Ansofy is an app that makes it possible for the user to build their own news feed, hand-picking sources from around the world in a single interface. And on the other, it’s an app that solves the issue of fake news and algorithmic filter bubbles, with AI technology.
In addition to giving the user the possibility of reading international news from Asia, local news from Sweden, and financial news from the States - if you prefer them in that order - Ansofy also provides its own news feeds. These are AI-created, sourced from one of the most cutting edge providers on the market.
The AI works as an observational journalist, surveilling a topic over the course of 24 hours. Once two or more sources begin writing about the same event, the AI extracts the facts, removes the emotion from the source material’s wording, and produces its own piece of unique content. As more sources pop up, the article is updated - and can even be branched out into several articles if the initial story begins to expand considerably. The results are news that are practically removed of human bias, and give an objective perspective on trending topics. Combined with access to news sources from the whole world, it makes Ansofy a powerful tool in pre-empting filter bubbles.
- Online consumers have begun questioning why they’re shown the information they’re shown as they browse digital news and social media feeds. Do a little research, and you quickly learn that sophisticated algorithms are responsible for tracking your every online move, and so determine what will and won’t interest you. It’s called a filter bubble - and when it comes to objective reporting it’s actually a serious problem.
"The only actual way to break the information filter-bubble is by accessing information from several sources reporting on the same event or topic."
Filter bubbles occur when you as an online consumer only see a very small piece of the big picture. Paywalls are also a contributing factor to the phenomenon. Who’s going to subscribe to 10 different newspapers, with different political perspectives and geographical contexts, every month? More often than not, you’ll pick one, or maybe two, newspapers you’d be willing to actually pay for. No matter how serious these publications are, though, they still hold bias. The only actual way to break the information filter-bubble is by accessing information from several sources reporting on the same event or topic.
So how does Ansofy actually work? The app’s AI component is based on RSS feeds; compiling enough free information from different publications material and creating a coherent and comprehensive article on the subject matter. RSS-feeds are digital versions of a front page or news flyer - like the ones you can still see posted in newsstands today.
On the other hand, Ansofy allows the user to pick and choose which sources they want to follow, organised by categories like Top news, Finance, Gossip and Public Service. The app does not take the user behind the paywall. Instead it provides a tool that essentially makes all other news apps superfluous. The combo gives the reader freedom of choice over their own information flow, and helps them navigate through the news-jungle in a clear way.
- Our long-term goal is to give every person in the world fair access to reliable information -and the power to decide over which news they want to consume. Whether they live in an area of war, conflict or peace; whether they’re from a developing or industrial country; whether they’re male or female. It shouldn’t matter. Information is the foundation for understanding - a quality we sorely need today, whether it’s about climate change or the refugee crisis.
"Imagine a world where news consumption has been turned into such an attractive commodity that journalists can focus on in-depth reporting instead of sensationalist headlines."
Long-term, Theresa wants to launch Ansofy on a global scale, and is particularly interested in how it can serve as a platform for readers and publications alike. Smaller magazines, sources and periodicals are suffering from the necessity for swift digitalisation. With Ansofy, they don’t need to build an expensive and user-friendly app, because the portal is already in place. Likewise, industries all over the globe are undergoing a shift towards journalistic investment; big businesses are starting to publish their own content. Theresa’s app can help them reach their customers as part of a massive information ecosystem, and eventually, Ansofy will serve as a symbiotic facilitator between publication and audience.
- Imagine a world where news consumption has been turned into such an attractive commodity that journalists can focus on in-depth reporting instead of sensationalist headlines. Where we’ve essentially removed fake news from the equation. Where you have the full picture of what’s going on in the world at your fingertips. And you, the reader, are in charge of your news feed, so you can avoid filter bubbles and echo chambers. That’s what Ansofy is: News 2.0, for a better information and media future.