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article imageFacebook trials new app section to spotlight local news

By James Walker     Jan 12, 2018 in Internet
Facebook's launched a test of a new app section that showcases news, events and announcements in your local area. The company is using machine learning to promote content from local publishers, helping you find interesting stories relevant to your region.
A feed for local publishers
Local news publishers will need to apply for the position via Facebook's News Partnerships Team. A company spokesperson told Recode that all publishers will be manually approved and verified by its staff before their content goes live. This will ensure the authenticity of the section isn't compromised by scammers pretending to be based in a certain area.
Called "Today In," the feed exists independently of Facebook's main News Feed. The initiative is currently being approached as an experiment. Facebook's investigating whether users want an easier way to access genuine local headlines from its app, offering an alternative to the global news stories that tend to dominate its main feed.
The company is currently tailoring Today In to specific city areas. At launch, residents of six U.S. cities will be able to access the feature using a compatible mobile device. New Orleans, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; Billings, Montana; Peoria, lllinois; Olympia, Washington and Binghamton, New York, are the current locations with Today In feeds.
Global media goes local
Today In is part of Facebook's wider effort to broaden its media partnerships and improve its platform authenticity. After "fake news" became a topical phrase in last year's U.S. presidential election, the company has started using a combination of AI and human curation to promote genuine content in its feeds. Facebook's decision to vet all Today In publishers demonstrates its new commitment to avoiding fake news.
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Under its Journalism Project Initiative, Facebook is attempting to make itself more welcoming to independent media organisations. Today In is another way for it to build relationships with publishers, including local press groups operating in regional areas. If Today In takes off, traffic to local publishers could be increased as more people are directed to their sites.
Today In also reflects Facebook's growing desire to connect local communities. Over the past year, the company has launched several products intended to help people explore their local area. These include an expansion of its "Marketplace" Craigslist-rival, a service Facebook hopes will become the go-to place for selling things to local residents. Today In has some similar aims, with Facebook again transforming itself into the default platform for learning about regional events.
More about Facebook, News feed, Social media, fake news
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