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Brief Published: 26 Sep 2019

Tonic: New App Offers Alternative to Toxic News


Brooklyn-based tech start-up Canopy has just released Tonic, a news app that offers "an alternative to endless feeds optimized for maximum engagement, breaking news, and outrage".

Tonic recommends five links for users to read every day, curated from what Canopy considers to be the best of the Internet. Breaking news and the hot takes that follow in its wake will not be featured on the app, as that area of the market is sufficiently served on existing social platforms.

Human editors are the first quality filter for content that is fed into the Tonic ecosystem. Then, a proprietary machine learning engine creates personalised recommendations, tailored to individual reader's interests and needs (including a need to step out of their bubble), based on onboarding responses and reading behaviour over time.

The innovative twist is that instead of creating a behaviour model of each user on a server, that data stays on users' phones. When the app requests content from Canopy's server, it sends an encrypted, differentially private version of its reader's behaviour.

Users don't even have to register for an account or log in with an email. They can view, change and reset their on-device personalisation info anytime – their data stays in their own hands for them to shape.

For more on how the next wave of artificial intelligence will help consumers simplify their lives, unlock the benefits of super automation and detox their digital lives, look out for our Human Tech Macro Trend, publishing next week.