Yahoo buys Instagram founders’ AI news startup Artifact – Quartz

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Illustration: Yahoo

Yahoo, the former king of the internet, said Tuesday that it’s acquiring an AI news aggregation company.

The firm, Artifact, was started by Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. Yahoo told Quartz that the purchase is its first AI acquisition. Meanwhile, the rivals it once competed closely with — Google and Microsoft, for example — have been swallowing up AI for years. Artifact’s tech will be used across the Yahoo network, especially on Yahoo News. The news platform’s use of AI will promote certain content based on users’ preferences to “connect users with even richer content experiences and tailored personalization.”


Yahoo News General Manager Kat Downs said in the company’s announcement that “Yahoo was one of the first to combine human and algorithmic curation of news.” But those algorithms have been under scrutiny for creating “echo chambers” that increase political polarization. While that scrutiny has mostly proved baseless — Facebook and Instagram users still seek out polarized content even when their algorithms’ “suggestive nature” is turned off — the use of AI in news certainly won’t help bridge the widening chasm between Americans’ two ideological sides of news consumption ahead of the presidential election.


Read more: AI is quietly revolutionizing the news. Here’s how

Yahoo said in an email that it’s open to future acquisitions of AI companies, though it did not specify what kinds of AI tech firms it would look to purchase.


While Yahoo News will only use AI as a sort of enhanced algorithm, news organizations’ adaptation of AI has sparked other concerns.

“If you don’t know where the information comes from, that can create problems,” Felix Simon, the author of a white paper about AI in journalism, told Politico in February. “One could expose you as a journalist or an organization to copyright infringement or plagiarism… That can create problems in the journalistic process, of course, and in the way we consume information.”

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