Facebook testing new feature to host city-specific local news

Facebook testing local news section on its platform

Facebook testing local news section on its platform

The new feature, called "Today In", shows users a feed of local events, announcement and other news.

The test is running in just six cities for now: New Orleans, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Billings, Mont.; Peoria, Ill.; Olympia, Wash.; and Binghamton, N.Y. Facebook users who self-identify as living in those areas will be able to visit the new section to see local information, like stories from local publishers or emergency updates from local authorities.

The move comes as part of Facebook's Journalism Project Initiative, a program the company announced in January 2017 that seeks to build out local news partnerships, among other goals.

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For its new local hub, Facebook is starting with a small batch of test markets.

News appearing on each cities' "Today In" feed will reportedly be vetted by Facebook's news partnership team. Publishers anxious they would have to pay to have their posts end up in the News Feed, where most users would spend their time, and thus where there is more potential for ad-revenue-generating traffic.

The project is a part of the company's Journalism Project initiative, which was launched at the time of presidential elections in 2016, because it was facing inspection for fake news stories being published on the platform before the 2016 election.

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The feature, which can be accessed using the bottom right menu button in the Facebook app (the three horizontal lines), brings together human curation and machine learning to surface content.

The social network said Thursday that it's overhauling the news feed prioritize posts from family and friends, as opposed to ones from brands and publishers.

Going "Local" spells out the theme for Facebook over the last 18 months as it started providing more posts from local politicians and is also expanding Marketplace, its Craigslist-style platform that is used by people for sale of products to their neighbors.

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