Microsoft is planning to not renew the contracts of dozens of journalists in the US and UK who select which new stories are featured on MSN.
Instead, the software giant will use artificial intelligence (AI) to select the news stories that appear on its site according to the Seattle Times. In a statement, Microsoft provided more details on its decision to replace human curators with AI, saying:
“Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, redeployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic.”
Just like some other tech companies, Microsoft pays news organizations for the right to use their content on its website. However, the company employs its own team of journalists to decide which stories are shown on MSN and how they are presented.
At the end of June, close to 50 contract news producers will lose their jobs at MSN while a team of full-time journalists will remain at the site. According to The Guardian, 27 of these news producers are employed by the UK-based company PA Media.
Some of the curators whose contracts will not be renewed warn that inappropriate stories could end up on the site as AI may not be familiar with MSN’s strict editorial guidelines.
Since its launch as Microsoft Network in 1995, MSN has undergone a number of changes. The site started out as a web portal and internet homepage that offered original content and links to news, weather and sports. However, in 2013, MSN rolled back its original news content and began laying off employees.
In 2014, Microsoft launched a redesigned version of the site that partnered with other news outlets to distribute their content. By not offering its own original news content, the company may have laid the groundwork for an automated system to curate the news shown on its site.