Facebook announced its now testing a feature aimed at spotlighting local news. The new “Today In” section will be available for mobile users in six cities including Little Rock.
Central Arkansas users may see alerts that guide them to the new feature. “Today In” will be available under Facebook’s More (☰) menu. As of Wednesday night, I wasn’t able to track it down. (BTW, did anyone else know all this stuff was in the More section of Facebook? I guess I’m not a regular visitor to this area of the app.)
Over the last few years, Facebook has minimized the reach of local news providers on its newsfeed and instead given preference to friends and family of users. From personal experience, I can tell you it’s much more difficult to get the reach and engagement we once did. Posts that instantly generated hundreds of shares are instead encouraged to buy a boost for a few bucks.
During this period of change for local news providers, we watched the rise of false news on Facebook.
So how will this new section work? And who gets in?
According to AdWeek, “Today In” will provide local news and other information including community updates, recent news, group discussions and local events. Content included in the section would come from local publishers that are selected via algorithm and by the social network’s news partnership team. The section won’t be curated, according to AdWeek.
If it works, it’ll roll out in additional cities.
I’d think the section is designed with the intention of spotlighting trusted news in a geographical area. When you’re dealing with an algorithm, that certainly raises concerns. I don’t know about you, but Facebook’s algorithm regularly shows me old posts, strange videos, and things I have very little interest in. During this week’s lottery hooplah, the KARK page received heavy traffic generated by a 2015 Powerball post.
I’m not holding my breathe for this to be Facebook’s sole solution in the fake news fight. However, I appreciate the effort from the social media giant and hope it helps push through trusted, local content.
Have you seen the new section on your feed yet? Find it helpful? Let me know in the comments below!
(In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Facebook stockholder.)