News & Opinion | August 17, 2017 1:30 pm

Why the Amazon Echo Show Is Keeping Its Curated News Very Light

The device won't be telling you about Charlottesville.

Amazon’s Echo Show constantly cycles through trending news on its home screen, but it rarely covers topics that are too heavy, like the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va. The device’s 7-inch touchscreen — and ability to ask Alexa for more detail through a voice command — primarily focuses on lifestyle, entertainment and sports news, writes Fast Company

So instead of hearing about Trump’s recent comments on white supremacy or North Korea, you might see a headline that says: “North Carolina Shaman Mistaken for Bigfoot” or “Chimpanzees Can Learn Rock-Paper-Scissors.”

Why is the device shying away from hard news? An Amazon spokesperson emailed Fast Company saying that the Echo Show is a “different kind of product” since it is a “communal device that the whole family sees and uses.”

Basically, this means that they think you don’t want your children to find out about a potential nuclear war or neo-Nazi activity by walking past a screen. Users can still ask for a Flash Briefing, in which case the device will deliver political and business stories from whatever outlets the person chooses.

Another reason the news remains light is that the Echo Show doesn’t have the capability to dive deeper into the stories. The Echo Show’s trending topics only provide a sentence or two of information beyond the headline, writes Fast Company, and there is no way to hear more details. There are no bylines either, and oftentimes, the source of the reporting is unclear. This would do a “disservice” to something like the Charlottesville protest, but not to the chimpanzees learning a new game.

In order for Amazon to provide more intensive news coverage, an Amazon worker would have a much bigger job curating content. And of course, there is always the issue of biases.

The device launched less than two months ago. One solution, according to Fast Company, would be for Amazon to work more closely with news outlets.

“As with everything we do,” a company spokesperson said to Fast Company, “the Echo Show trending topics experience will continue to improve and evolve over time based on customer feedback.”