Apple has announced with the next update of the operating system on its popular phone and tablet it will begin feeding selected news stories to millions of users.
The tech giant said it is moving to be the primary news source on the devices, overshadowing others such as Facebook, Google and Flipboard.
It is estimated there are over 60 million iPhone users in the United States.
According to Apple, the news app “follows over a million topics and pulls relevant stories based on your specific interests.”
Partner news organizations represent the forefront of the establishment media, including Conde Nast magazines, ESPN, The New York Times, Hearst, Time Inc., CNN and Bloomberg.
The company said other publishers and bloggers may be allowed to provide news for the new platform, but it did not provide additional information.
It is highly unlikely Apple will allow Infowars.com and other alternative news sources to participate.
Apple said it will hire journalists to manage the news feeds sent to users and will not depend on the sort of algorithmic processes used by competitors.
A job listing on the company’s website says it is “looking for passionate, knowledgeable editors to help identify and deliver the best in breaking national, global, and local news.”
“The expectation is they will put together a smart team that works well broadly across news and specific content areas,” Judd Slivka, a professor of mobile journalism at the University of Missouri, told AFP.
Critics worry about a transnational corporation deciding what news stories iPhone users will receive.
“I’m not crazy about the idea of shifting news to huge corporations like Apple and Facebook that have their own agendas,” said Dan Kennedy, a journalism professor at Northeastern University.
Kennedy said the “Facebook algorithm is highly mysterious, and people are starting to resent that.”
Michael Krieger notes that Facebook is attempting to centralize and monopolize news delivery.
If a news website declines to join the Facebook program, “over time you might see your traffic evaporate compared to your competitors whose content will load seamlessly and be promoted by the FB algorithm. If a large percentage of your traffic is being generated by Facebook, can you really afford to lose this?” he writes.
Facebook actively demotes news stories users claim are hoaxes and fakes. It allows users to flag stories they claim are “purposefully fake or deceitful news” and the reported stories are then either removed or distribution is reduced.
Earlier this year Google announced it will score the “truthfulness” of news stories linked by its search engine.
The “truthfulness” ranking technology being developed by the tech giant will include input by Snopes, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org, websites known for marked bias against alternative news sources.