Yahoo wants its readers to be more connected via its latest mobile app.
Called Yahoo Newsroom, the app offers a personalized feed of news stories. Rather than simply having articles ranked by clicks and views and by the company's own editorial curation, the algorithm is influenced by a user's behavior and by what they choose to follow — not unlike other popularsocial networks.
"I see this as Reddit for the masses," Simon Khalaf, Yahoo's senior vice president of publishing products, told Mashable." It’s not cultish, and this is the wedge that we believe Snapchat and Instagram has not focused on. It's a very strong community feel."
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The release comes as Yahoo isinvestigating a hack of at least 500 million user accounts and Verizon is still finalizing its acquisition of the company's core assets. It also follows years of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recasting Yahoo as a mobile-first business yet struggling to release anyinfluential apps.
Unlike other social networks, Yahoo Newsroom is dedicated to news. "There's no social pressure. There's no vanity. It's all about true news. This is not hiding between baby pictures that you just have to like," Khalaf said.
Yahoo Newsroom has three newsfeeds, Khalaf said. The first "My Feed" is the main newsfeed influenced by what you choose to follow. "Explore" is categorized by topics. The third is your personal profile that displays what you choose to like and share.
App users can choose to follow topics, or what Yahoo Newsroom dubs "vibes." In addition to the dozen categories on the Yahoo homepage, such as finance, tech and politics, the app features hundreds of more niche categories, such as U.S. news, artificial intelligence and Hillary Clinton.
The app also encourages users to share their own stories. App users can search through Yahoo's feeds or post their own links. Users can then re-post, comment and like other posts.
The vibes do not have any human moderators, yet. To prevent fake news from appearing, Yahoo has several tools in places. "There are a lot of sources that we actually blacklist, but there's also ranking signals that we use. We call it internally, the gravitas. That's a dimension that we give to the algorithm to reject low gravitas or rank very, very low, stories that don't have what we call gravitas," Khalaf said.