Facebook testing local news section on its platform

Posted January 12, 2018

In an attempt to further address its "fake news" problem and make the platform a better place for people to find local stories, Facebook is testing a new section in its app called "Today In".

The feature is being tested initially across six USA cities: New Orleans, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; Billings, Montana; Peoria, Illinois; Olympia, Washington and Binghamton, New York. As reported by a company spokesperson, the Company's News Partnerships team which is directed by former NBC News Anchor Campbell Brown is entrusted with the responsibility of approving and vetting the local news publishers featuring on Facebook.

The social network also announced last month that it has started demoting engagement bait posts from the users' news feed.

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The social media giant, Facebook keeps on launching new features for compete the tough market of social media apps.

Content creation in this section is attributed to machine learning software used by Facebook. Local news sources are vetted and approved by a human first before they're added, the company noted.

Facebook plans to alert those living in the six cities about the new feature.

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One will be able to see news in the "Today In" tab by clicking on the ☰ button on the bottom right corner of the app.

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. These will include posts coming both from people as well as pages.

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