Does Circa’s Breaking News Feed Raise Privacy Concerns?

Circa's second generation mobile breaking news feed offers customizable content but could raise questions about the privacy of users.

What if there was a new wire service for mobile devices that takes the citizen journalism aspects of Reddit and Twitter, and combines them with customizable content based on user interest?

You would have the new mobile breaking news feed from Circa, described in a report on GigaOm today that coincides with the launch of a second generation product and Android app.

 A couple of features makes the updated version unique, and possibly, raise alarm bells among journalists and privacy advocates.

Not unlike Twitter, a “follow” feature has been added that enables users to receive breaking news alerts, even if it’s only a single sentence. Followers will continue to get updates on that alert as news develops. Unlike some mainstream news sites, co-founder and CEO Matt Galligan tells GigaOm that their plan is to be judicious with alerts, taking into account things like time of day in different time zones.

 The follow feature also tells Circa if a user has read a breaking news alert, so if there is an error, they can push out a correction to those users.  While the feature sounds helpful, after all, Outlook offers a “receipt read” feature, but does it seem a little Big Brother to anyone?

Until recently, Circa was only available for the iPhone, with limited content on the web, so its expansion to Android and an app is significant.  The company also produces video packages for major news stories.

Social media and news organizations alike are looking to mobile for growth by offering as much real-time video and content as possible. But in contrast to organizations like Storyful, which takes the time to verify the content they find online, Circa’s new feature enables users to opt-in to receiving unconfirmed news reports.

Circa seems to be circumventing one of the major complaints about Twitter:  That unverified information can go viral quickly.  That’s what makes this feature interesting; users will know that what they’re getting is unconfirmed and can make their own judgements.

Galligan told GigaOm that Circa is exploring how to integrate its news product with wearables, such as Google Glass. And, continue to explore how to broaden its sources for news using Twitter and more user-generated content.

News junkies, does this product sound more exciting or scary? Would you have any concerns about privacy?

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