Monday, 17 December, 2018

Facebook testing new feature to host city-specific local news

Facebook Inc (FB) Gets Deeper Into Local News, Events With New Facebook is testing local news and events section for local publishers
Kayla Schwartz | 11 January, 2018, 21:14

As Facebook continues its efforts to squeeze in more information in the user timeline, the platform is reportedly testing a new feature that would show users local news and events judging by their location. It's part of Facebook's Journalism Project Initiative, which includes creating local news partnerships as one of its objectives. The users will get to go through local news on their go. Those initial cities are New Orleans, Louisiana; Olympia, Washington; Billings, Montana; Binghamton, New York; Peoria, Illinois and Little Rock, Arkansas.

The local news publishers that appear in the new section will all be approved and vetted by the company's News Partnerships team, writes Recode. Facebook was facing scrutiny at the time for its role in hoax news stories being disseminated across its platform ahead of the 2016 election.

The move comes as part of Facebook's Journalism Project announced in January a year ago to curb the spread of fake news on its platform and build out local news partnerships. Nevertheless, Facebook's new Journalism Project initiative and the new section does away with the pointing fingers.

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It still remains to be seen that whether this section will benefit local publishers or not. For now, the test is running in six cities of the U.S., while the company is also planning to expand it to more countries after the test completes. Possibilities indicate that being part of a distinct, local section of the app might help draw more traffic back to publishers' own news pieces and websites where being advertised on Facebook by featuring on the app will add to their revenues, but the section by itself won't help them make money.

While this is far from Facebook's first foray into trying to make the Facebook experience more locally focused, the tiny batch of city-specific rollouts and at least sort of hands-on curation efforts suggest that Facebook is trying to move cautiously.

The company will expand the "Today In" feature in other cities too.

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