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Our Newsvoice app was banned from Google Play Store for our unbiased Covid-19 coverage, a month later Google News releases the exact same feature. I’m Malin Cumzelius, COO, AMA!

A month ago, our Newsvoice app was removed from Google Play Store, without warning, for our extensive Covid-19 coverage, which aggregated real-time statistics from very reputable sources such as ECDC. It took us almost a week to get through the opaque process of getting the app back up on the store, with the Covid-19 coverage removed. The official reason for removal was “profiting from disaster”.

Now, a month later, Google News has added the exact same features to their website. So how is it profiting from disaster when a small upcoming startup is doing it, but not when Google themselves do it?

I’m Malin Cumzelius, COO of Newsvoice. Prior to Newsvoice.com, I've spent my time building two of the most loved brands out of the Nordics - Spotify and the lifestyle brand ARKET for the H&M Group.

Ask me anything!

Proof is here. Check out our Newsvoice app here, it’s a really cool crowdsourced news app with the aim to challenge mainstream media, and to take the bias out of the news.


44
questions
5,761
score
June 29th 2020
interview date
grundelgrump

Do you think giving frequent users upvotes more weight can lead to even more bias? Why add an upvote system at all in the comment section?


malincumzelius

The upvoting system isn't set in stone. We are always looking for better ways to do things! Please share if you have thoughts on how you would like our system to function. However, the weight of the votes isn't just decided by how frequent users are, but if they have done quality checked contributions to the app, such as written approved summaries for news stories.

dggenuine

How does NewsVoice remove bias from the news? In my experience with the app, it’s as biased as the users. So when the users choose to focus on something that is biased, then NewsVoice content is also biased. And yes while different users with different opinions can create competing content, NewsVoice doesn’t offer any special features to help evaluate the positions against each other. One cluster of stories claims one thing, and cluster claims something else, and the comments under each are mostly just insult-fests against anyone who disagrees.


malincumzelius

Each new source is presented with multiple sources. Every source is labeled with their biases. Mainstream media is biased and owned by only a handful of corporations. Often they have an agenda of their own and fail to provide unbiased information. Providing multiple links to each source helps reducing dependence on any one outlets. Often the biases are visible in the headlines. When a user sees a story, it is also accompanied by a summary that highlights only facts. So what NV is doing if offering a user multiple sources to a story and letting them decide. Rather than pushing any one narrative on them.

zahzensoldier

One of my main problems with this app is there seems to be be very little oversite over the content posted and how the sources are labeled as. I've seen websites most politically knowledgeable people would determine to be far right websites put up as a centrist websites and i can't help but think this brings legitimacy to "news sources" that are completely uninformed, biased or propaganda and it is in such a way that I think its dangerous to public discourse.

It also seems interesting to me that comment sections tend to skew farther to the right with a number of commentors repeating common propganda from white suprmeacist groups, snti government groups or Jewish question types. Is it your plan to have this type of stuff to sort itself out? If not, how does your team deal with it?

Further, if your team is meant to deal with it, how do you plan to scale your platform to adapt to a larger influx of users. It seems to be a problem that many bigger social media platforms have because a larger numbers of users makes it easier for bad actors, fake news and political proganda to go unchecked.

Edit: I will add, I really wanted to love this app because the idea behind and the theory resonates with me. But like many wild west platforms with no oversite, they tend to turn into communities of the most detestable variety.

Edit 2: thanks for the likes even though my grammar, spelling and sentence structure was atrocious. Ive fixed most of it now.


malincumzelius

Thanks for reaching out! We've done surveys on our readers and we actually have a pretty even spread across the political spectrum. However, right wing commenters tend to be more vocal, even though the bias in the comments varies wildly depending on the type of news story. We work really hard to get an audience that is evenly spread. When it comes to the labels, we use an aggregate of research set them. I think we are mostly correct, but sometimes an error can slip through. If you find a particular source that seem to have been miscategorized, please let us know and we will look into it asap! Feel free to email us at info@newsvoice.com

Krisp808

I found the app to be a great source of news. Unfortunately I deleted the app due to a strong and blatant attempt at a soft "takeover" of the comment section by right-wing trolls. The "moderators" in the comment section were also clearly biased towards right-wing commentors, even going so far as to post conspiracy theories and false information about trump and other republicans while muting my posts that denounced the trolls. What criteria do you use to find moderators and how would you address this issue?


malincumzelius

Thanks for reaching out and sorry to hear that. That has been a real concern and something we are really working hard to address. Our main strategy here is to always provide a multitude of sources to back stories up. Something we are planning to add is a warning if there are only sources from one viewpoint or the sources are known to be inaccurate. We respect the fact that some users may want to use the Newsvoice app as purely a source of news and if you’re not interested in commenting on news stories or reading comments there’s an option to mute comments. This is how: Access the “Account” option within the app, scroll down to “Show comments” to turn off the comments. Also, please note, comments are meant to be moderated against stated guidelines (https://newsvoice.com/rules). If you've noticed otherwise, please feel free to inform us Besides, addressing your question on moderation. A user is expected to reach Level 5 in the app to proceed to be a moderator. This is achieved via contributions including penning summaries, etc. After this, we have a one-on-one call with the moderator. Also, we are soon implementing a process to ensure further transparency in the process. I'm sorry you experienced what you did. I'd encourage you to give the app another try and if you notice any bias, please flag it off on info@newsvoice.com. And may be you could even be our next moderator

thiccyikes

I was a Newsvoice user for a while on Android. To be honest, I agree with their decision. The app does not have a wide enough user base to moderate content smoothly. I found my experience on the app to be quite irritating. It rewards polarizing behavior and it seemed to attract a lot of people who don't feel comfortable enough to post their opinions in more public forums.

What are your thoughts on this? I am open to returning to the app and was a 'Backer' at one point. However, the user experience was very inflammatory for me.


malincumzelius

One of our biggest challenges is to find a good balance between the freedom of speech in the app and keeping the app non-toxic. A quick solution is to turn off the comments if they bother you. News is still tops! But we are working super hard on improving the situation in the comments and hope you'll give us a second chance :)

ExoticsForYou

How rough was middle school with a last name like that?


malincumzelius

Depends on how you pronounce it ;)

ocken

Hello NewsVoice,

Considering Viktor's history at Google, did he not have back channel access to the review team or someone at Google who could vouch for the app?

Second, now that they've launched themselves, can you guys relaunch that feature?


malincumzelius

We would love too, but just don't have the recourses and can't risk Google suspending us.

Rakesh1995

How do your team plan to counter manipulation by groups and bots?


malincumzelius

We have implemented measures to counter bots. We conduct interviews with all moderators to make sure that they aren't Russian trolls, and that they stand behind our guidelines.

fillllll

How hard is it to ban the N-word and other racial slurs from a platform? and how difficult is it to ban the people and bots who post such comments?


malincumzelius

We working super hard to fix the comment section. We do remove attacks on other readers and profanities. It's always still possible to express an opinion without these, and chances of a constructive dialog is larger. If you have an example please email us at info@neewsvoice.com so we can take action.

loics2

I have nothing interesting to ask you, but did you know that your first name means smart in French?

E: well, ok, askreddit doesn't like random French facts...


malincumzelius

Thanks anyway - and yes I know about that :)

martymcflyskateboard

During your last AMA you said you were working on the clickbait titles in the push notifications. To this day they still are an issue. What's the deal with them, and will you actually remove the clickbait?


malincumzelius

Our updates to push notifications are still work in progress. We will soon be able to be much faster with breaking news for instance, but I think we've done some good progress on the accuracy of the notifications that we do send out. Stay tuned for more updates and always feel free to emails us feeback - info@newsvoice.com

minhthemaster

How is this AMA so heavily upvoted but with so few questions and poor responses?


malincumzelius

Thanks for reaching out, trying to answer as many questions as possible. Needed to get some sleep :)

sushipusha

You said it was removed from the Play Store and yet when I click on the link it brings me back to the Play Store. What has happened? Has it been allowed back?


malincumzelius

It was removed for a couple of days - now it's available to download. Search for Newsvoice

gungooroo

Do you all intend to ever censor comments on news articles? I've been pleasantly surprised to be able to hear multiple views of subjects, regardless if I agree or disagree


malincumzelius

For legal reasons, there are comments that we sometimes need to remove. This can be things like incitement to violence. We also hide comments to comply with the rules of App Store and Google Play or for personal attacks on other readers of Newsvoice, these comments can always be accessed through our website. This makes it possible to review the work of moderators and to see why things were hidden.

trenhel27

Just here to upvote and say I love the app. I do have one question though:

I'd love to know why there even is a comment section. It seems entirely pointless to me, unless the point is to grab more users with the draw of argument and trolling?


malincumzelius

Thank you so much! Our comment section is still very much work in progress, but we hope we can evolve it to a place where people from the whole political spectrum can meet in a constructive discussion as long as you follow our guidelines.

That being said, it's easy to turn the comments off in the settings if you prefer not to see them.

puzzlingnerd57

How did you come up with the idea for the app? Not many others call out bias as readily as you do.


malincumzelius

Newsvoice was launched by Viktor Lidholt. Viktor is a former Google developer that left his job in Silicon Valley to focus on a mission to fix the news. To put things in perspective, in the US, 41% of the population does not trust the mainstream media. Newsvoice is aiming to rebuild that trust and create a new and innovative way to read the news. Whatever happens in the world, whatever trend, war, or crisis - we need to tell that story.

sunangel520

If Google were to ask for a removal of an article, would you remove it and if so is there a news voice website where its archived? Also a fun question, what is the age groups of the app users?


malincumzelius

Since we aggregate other news sites, we don't really work like that. Our users are mainly millennials in the US :)

wildjurkey

So, just so I'm following the narrative... You developed a Reddit style news aggregator, then fail to effectively moderate and quarantine the trolls posting hate speech. So google suspends your app "Without warning" because you're not stemming hate speech, and it's Google's fault? What am I missing here?


malincumzelius

We was suspended from Google after launching our Covid-19 dashboard in the app, where we wanted to help readers stay up to date with the latest Covid information. We don't allow hate speech, that violates our guidelines, and we take action as soon as something like that would to appear. Please send us a screenshot to info@newsvoice.com if you come over something like that.

johnghanks

Is this an ad?


malincumzelius

Haha no, that would be way less time consuming :)

AggravatingYogurt0

Do you plan to expand to outside of the US? I stopped using it because all news were very US-centric and sources were labeled as "right" (implying "US right wing), "left" (implying "US left wing"), "Europe", "Russia".

I'm not sure what the "Europe" / "Russia" labels are for, but I'm guessing those would be better because they offer an external point of view.


malincumzelius

At the moment the US is our main focus, but stay tuned for updates!

SinisterPixel

Have you considered making a UK centric version of this app? The press here is crammed full of bias and they aren't even subtle about it anymore. I'd love to have an app where I know I'm not getting a paid for spin on the story


malincumzelius

Glad you like the app, thanks. And stay tuned we wanna make a UK centric version in the future too.

USpoliticaljunkie

Will Newsvoice seek to challenge Google's anti-competitive practices in court?


malincumzelius

Will Newsvoice seek to challenge Google's anti-competitive practices in court?

We're working super hard to create the best news app out there so we'll keep focusing on that... I guess we're doing something pretty good if Google wanna copy us ;)

goast-face

Seeing how Google has tried to sensor you already, will you consider putting Newsvoice app on F-Droid to make available for non Google users?


malincumzelius

Newsvoice isn't yet open source (which is required by F-Droid), but we hope to get it there in the future! We do need some more resources to make the code accessible to all, but it's one of our goals.

_misterwilly

I installed your app. Any plans to add an iOS widget? IMO this is crucial for a news app.


malincumzelius

It's on our roadmap, but cannot give an exact time frame at this point. But stay tuned!

FactCheckerNeil

What methodology do you use to identify the bias in a news sites and can it be used to identify how extreme the level of bias is? Also, please reassure your users this app won't end up in the hands of a Chinese company I.e. Grindr and Zoom


malincumzelius

Thanks for reaching out. For the labels, we are using an aggregate of research to set the labels. It's not a perfect system and if you find an error, please get in touch and we will do what we can to look into it and fix it! [info@newsvoice.com](mailto:info@newsvoice.com)

what_Would_I_Do

My understanding was all Covid related apps (except the official ones) were banned and removed to prevent misinformation. I have no idea how many apps were in this space but maybe there were so many that they were forced to filter by Covid and ban all instead of checking and verifying each individual source. But that's really evil of them to capitalise on your features. Are there any methods of preventing this? Legally I mean. I don't want my shit stolen too


malincumzelius

News is such a fundamental cornerstone of a democracy, so maybe you need to spend extra time on verifying instead of just ban.

Jolress

Perhaps newsvoice could become an extension for browsers and point out the alignment of articles produced by major news outlets to improve usage and exposure?


malincumzelius

Perhaps newsvoice could become an extension for browsers and point out the alignment of articles produced by major news outlets to improve usage and exposure?

All ideas and thoughts around what we can do next are welcomed.

mkkool

Where can i see the vacancies?


malincumzelius

We're always looking for brilliant people - feel free to send your application to [career@newsvoice.com](mailto:career@newsvoice.com)

ammonammon

Reporting the news will almost always have some form of bias built in. It's up to the reader to digest it properly, and think, analyze, and conclude what the content means to them. What are some of the ways NVoice can promote this mindset/approach to reporting and news distro? We have watched MSM take away commenting, focus on the irrelevant to distract from the crucial, and now take executive and editorial control - let's get people thinking again.

Thanks for your time and keep up the good work!


malincumzelius

Thanks for reaching out! I think by focusing on facts first and at the same time showcasing different perspectives of a news story, you can easier understand if someone's trying to influence the narrative.

tecatelight

what legal route are you taking?


malincumzelius

Since we're a small startup our primary focus needs to be creating the best news app experience out there.

ActualChip5

Wheres the beef?


malincumzelius

We're a small startup working super hard to fix what we believe is broken - the news. So we'll keep focusing on creating the best news experience for as many people as possible instead.

vonnegutfan2

ARE you suing Google?


malincumzelius

We're focusing on doing what we can best, work hard to create a great news experience for our users.

BAM5

It's Google. They removed "Don't Be Evil" so obviously they're free to do as they please.

Do you think that we can actually remove the bias from the media? It seems like there's large powers at play that try to control the narative for their own political/monetary/powerly gain. It seems there'd always be someone to benefit from it unless there was backlash from the public to prevent such bs. But it seems like a large majority of the general public just buy into it.


malincumzelius

You need to try right! And hopefully, we can at least make it a bit better, by focusing on facts first.

Fancy-Pair

Where’s the best place to get stats for my city or town?


malincumzelius

For Covid?

TehFrenchestFry

Did you attempt taking legal action against them or were you not able to?


malincumzelius

We're a small startup so we just need to focus on the things we can control - work hard creating a great news experience for our users.

dalepmay1

Have you filled the lawsuit yet against Google for unethical business practices?


malincumzelius

We are a small startup so not doable, so we're just gonna focusing on building Newsvoice :)

etnguyen03

Today Reddit banned many communities for various reasons. After being banned from the Google Play store, I would like to ask what are your thoughts of Reddit banning subreddits such as /r/The_Donald for what they claim to be racism but what some others believe as Reddit's attempt to censor right-leaning beliefs? Do you believe that Reddit should be banning such communities?


malincumzelius

If it violates with the law or the companies guidelines, yes.

TA06212020

At this time is Newsvoice planning on suing google or potentially taking legal action later on?


malincumzelius

At this point we're focusing super hard to just create the best news experience out there :)

[deleted]

[deleted]


malincumzelius

I think to sue Google is not an option for a small startup, we'll keep focusing on building Newsvoice.

nooobmaster-69

How can we help, as users of the platform?


malincumzelius

Help us spread the word about Newsvoice so we can become the biggest news app out there.

kkreuzer01

sue?


malincumzelius

I think better to spend time on making Newsvoice better and better :)

zaynthelegend

What's your favourite ice cream flavour?


malincumzelius

I'll just keep that a secret :)

Szymas255

Why is your app better than for example wikinews? How do you prevent yourself from simply becoming an echo chamber that repeats biases of your early adopters?


malincumzelius

Hi, thanks for reaching out. I think by focusing on as fact based summaries as possible - and links showcasing different perspectives we can help readers get a more balanced narrative.

[deleted]

[deleted]


malincumzelius

Thanks for reaching out!f we focus on the facts at least we can try to avoid it.

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