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App Updates: Buzzfeed, Boston Globe, and More Build-Your-Own News

Readers of Buzzfeed and/or The Boston Globe can now enjoy a more personalized reading experience. If you’ve got an iPhone, that is.

Last week Buzzfeed announced an updated version of its iOS app (Android to follow), which allows users to completely customize what headlines they see upon opening the app. Because we all need another way to waste time consume news, Buzzfeed wants avid news readers to determine our nonsense to substantive news ratio to make the process more efficient. So, your custom news feed might contain a wealth of stories about New Jersey politics (since Buzzfeed has increasingly become a source of  balanced, original reporting) or, perhaps, 90s boy band lyrics (for those of us who prefer mindless entertainment while waiting in line for coffee).

The Boston Globe did something similar with its iPhone app, launching a customizing feature June 21. The Globe‘s executive director for emerging products Michael Manning explained it like this: “We know that readers want to stay on top of topics they care about, whether that’s the Red Sox, local politics, national news or entertainment. The new Boston Globe app lets the reader decide what news takes priority.”

Manning says the homepage will be a hub of all the reader’s preferred topics and sections, with an “infinite” number of relevant stories available.

It’s good timing for this rise in personalization of news consumption, too, since Google Reader was laid to rest yesterday.

Though writer Jeff John Roberts says personalized news feeds on apps may not have an earth-shattering outcome since the majority of people still get their news from websites rather than apps, that number may change as news organizations continue to develop more options for personalization on mobile devices.

You might have also noticed some Internet chatter last week about the Yahoo! News homepage redesign. Basically, the news powerhouse has set up the site as a personal news reader, so the homepage is rendered based on your reading history. Yahoo! is said to be rolling this feature into its mobile apps, too.

Digital Trends’ Francis Bea raises an interesting concern about the risk Yahoo! runs with this plan:

“… the type of content you’ll read on Yahoo is up to Yahoo’s technology and the algorithms it has built. So if you give it a shot and feel like it’s just not right and you’re not finding stories you like, you might bail fast and never look back,” Bea writes.

Really, all three of these organizations are just picking up on the success that news readers like Flipboard and Pulse have had and making personalization available on their own platforms.

But can news consumption be too personal, and thus unbalanced? The question, how much is too much news personalization, has been posed before, but we’d like you to sound off. Does filtering your information cheapen your news experience? Is having a personal reader comparable to the days when people subscribed to only one newspaper?

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