Facebook Testing Local News & Events Section in its App

Janie Parker
January 12, 2018

It's part of Facebook's Journalism Project Initiative, which includes creating local news partnerships as one of its objectives.

The company is testing a new area of its app called "Today In", a mix of city-specific events, announcements and local news.

The feature is being tested initially across six United States cities: New Orleans, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; Billings, Montana; Peoria, Illinois; Olympia, Washington and Binghamton, New York.

News appearing on each cities' "Today In" feed will reportedly be vetted by Facebook's news partnership team.

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For those who have access to the feature, it is accessible via the menu button in the bottom-right of the main Facebook 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. This should help assuage some of the "fake news" concerns that have plagued Facebook over the past year or more. This section is being tested in five cities of America however the company plans to launch it globally once its gets approved in its test phase.

The users will then also be able to follow the cities that they do not now live in, like childhood hometown. 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 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.

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