Designing a customized news experience with data privacy in mind

5th Nov 2019
Though people continue to rely on news apps for relevant and important stories, they’re increasingly concerned with how their data is being used to personalize their feeds. To rebuild trust and increase people’s comfort with app engagement, they need empowering tools that let them control their data and show them how it’s being used to suggest content.
Product Context

Bizfeed is a digital media service featuring articles and videos with an emphasis on business and economic news. Bizfeed prides itself on its “most important news at the top” and personalized feeds made for busy professionals.

In order to provide the service, Bizfeed is powered by some of the following data:

  • Article and video views, likes, and comments
  • Personal preferences
  • Activity and behavior on the app

Problem & Opportunity

Today with fake news, filter bubbles, and targeted news on the rise, people are growing more skeptical of tech companies, and more concerned with how their data is being used by them to suggest content. Even younger, more tech-savvy people are questioning the apps they rely on. Creating simple, transparent tools may help may help repair trust, giving people clear steps to manage what data they share and better ways to understand how it’s influencing the content they see in their feed. These tools will ensure privacy needs are met while enhancing the personalized experience people have come to expect from Bizfeed.

How might we... tools that return control to people while improving their personalized experience?

Design Features
Onboarding as a trust-building moment

Bizfeed understands that first impressions are lasting impressions. Improving trust starts at sign up. While setting up their profile, people can choose a pre-set avatar that most closely matches them. Without giving up much, if any, personal information, this gives Bizfeed a baseline of their interests and preferences, which people can then customize, giving different weight to different categories, like their interests. This feature offers people simple choices with explanations to help them understand how their data is being used to customize their feed. It’s a flexible tool that checks in with people, so when or if their needs change, they can easily adjust their settings accordingly.

Bizzfeed Feed 03@2x
Next steps

To improve this feature, extensive testing is needed to ensure that these avatars are accurately representing different archetypes and reflect different people’s unique needs. Ultimately, the goal is to design a transparent tool that builds trust among tech-savvy people. This feature also must function within the Bizfeed product ecosystem (e.g. news outlets, advertisers, civil society) and support the app’s goal of being a neutral, credible company that people can trust.

How might we build on Bizfeed’s ideas to design simple tools that both build trust and improve the customized news experience?