Spectrm App Publishes News Directly through Facebook Messenger

Img source: spectrm.de
A start-up based in Berlin called Spectrm is using bots to deliver news to users through Facebook's Messenger application.

Launched in 2015, Spectrm is already working with over 50 publications, like Business Insider, NowThis, Thrillist, and Bild, who are all interested in tailoring their content to platforms that use direct messaging. Spectrm sends content to users on behalf of these publications through applications like Slack, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger.

Img source: spectrm.de
Their one-on-one approach customises stories to individuals, based on their preferences. It brings a conversational element into news updates, as the stories arrive through an app used for personal communications. Users are prompted to read the full article with a 'Check it out' button which links directly to the site.

Spectrm offers its clients plenty of statistics, providing publications with valuable data about how their users consume news articles. Information like share and click rates helps businesses to better understand how their content is received by consumers, and how they can direct specific content towards users, based on preferences and online behaviour.

Publications can add GIFs and other visual features to their posts without the need to code, since Spectrm uses a CMS interface. This makes it easier for clients to tailor content to the very specific IM form.

It's interesting to see how developers are responding to the rapidly changing media scene. Social networks nowadays play a major part in the circulation of news, with many young people consuming articles almost exclusively through sites like Facebook and Twitter.

It's encouraging that businesses are making the effort to keep up with trends and new platforms, and taking the power of social media sharing seriously. It is essential for any publication to stay tuned to how users are sharing and reading content, and adapt their strategy accordingly, if they are to have any hope of remaining relevant in the digital realm.

However, the customised nature of this approach could aggravate the 'filter bubble' effect, which leads to users being shielded from views that oppose their own. A focus to give individuals more of what they want to hear can be damaging, as it reinforces their prior beliefs, without giving them access to alternatives.

Apps like Perspecs, which has received recognition in the form of the DNI (Digital News Initiative) grant from Google, attempt to tackle this problem of confirmation bias. The app presents three versions of the same news story, covered from different perspectives, by different publications.

Perspecs is currently in beta stages, and is being developed by Trinity Mirror, a UK publisher. Sources included in the app at the moment include The New York Times, CNN, and GQ magazine.

Darren Sher, who heads up the product team at Trinity Mirror, says:

'The funding and recognition from Google is a huge boost for Perspecs. It opens up a number of opportunities to help us build our audience and further develop the infrastructure and reach of the App.

'The DNI is about supporting innovative digital journalism which sparks new thinking, so we’re really pleased to be recognised in that bracket.'

The app enables readers to swipe between stories and explore different points of view. For instance, users can read about a political event through the lens of left-leaning, central and right-leaning sources.

Perspecs certainly sounds like a promising application. This kind of news consumption could help readers become aware not only of other perspectives, but also of the biases that cloud their own newsfeeds. Often these are dominated by articles shared by like-minded friends, giving an inaccurate picture of how the story is more widely received.

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