Facebook Testing Local News & Events Section in its App


Social media platform, Facebook, on Wednesday announced its new feature aimed at disseminating local news to its users.

On the flipside, the report notes that while users may appreciate the local aspect of "Today In", Facebook could have trouble attracting advertisers to feeds that are smaller and less diverse in nature.

Facebook is now testing "Today In" in New Orleans; Little Rock, Ark.; Billings, Mont.; Peoria, Ill.; Olympia, Wash.; and Binghamton, N.Y., according to Recode.

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The experiment is apparently being led by Facebook's News Partnerships team, which is employing human curation and machine learning to fuel the content found in the "Today In" section.

The move comes as part of the social network's Journalism Project announced in January previous year which aimed to counter the spread of fake news on its platform and build out local news partnerships.

This initiative is the part of Facebook's Journalism Project, which was launched past year to counter fake news allegations faced by the company.

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All of this plays into the company's broader efforts to cleanse the service of false information; hand-selecting local publishers to appear inside this new section of the app should (theoretically) help keep fake news to a minimum. The initiative is called the Facebook Journalism Project and the first observable product to come from it is now in soft-launch in a few areas in the USA.

It still remains to be seen that whether this section will benefit local publishers or not. 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.

The social networking firm wants to expand this app to more cities and then other countries gradually.

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Users in the initial test batch of cities can access the feature in the bottom menu of the mobile Facebook app. The social network has been trying to weed out misinformation and hoaxes on the news feed, and has tried using third-party fact checkers to curb the problem.