Facebook testing local news section on its platform


Facebook's news partnership team will check the relevance of the news that goes on the feed.

Facebook is using machine-learning software to surface content in this new section.

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

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.

The new tool, called "Today In", will show a feed of local events, announcements and news to the users.

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The move comes as part of Facebook's Journalism Project announced in January previous year to curb the spread of fake news on its platform and build out local news partnerships. Donald Trump's surprising victory in U.S. presidential election was the major cause where tech giants faced a strong backlash from the public on spreading fake news. The initiative set out to improve Facebook's rocky relationship with publishers, though as 2017 progressed its mission to "support journalism and news literacy" certainly became full-on mission critical.

Recode notes that Facebook intends to expand "Today In" to other cities as it tests the feature out.

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

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. Users in test markets will be able to access the feature through the bottom-right menu button on Facebook.

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.