Facebook tests app section for local news and events

With 'Today In', Facebook wants to be your new local news reporter

The new section of this fascinating app is called "Today In", a feed that would wholly feature local news, events, and announcements. The "Today In" section is being tested in six cities: New Orleans, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Billings, Mont.; Peoria, Ill.; Olympia, Wash.; and Binghamton, N.Y., per Recode.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is delving much deeper into the local news and events world with a new section in its mobile app. The company plans to add the service to more cities, and let people choose to follow local news from other areas. Local news publishers who appear there will all be approved and vetted by the company's News Partnerships team, which is overseen by former NBC news anchor Campbell Brown, according to a company spokesperson. "This tactic, known as "engagement bait", seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach", explained Henry Silverman, operations integrity specialist at Facebook".

The project is part of Facebook's Journalism Project initiative, which it launched previous year following the 2016 presidential election. The social media giant, last year, also tested products to connect its users to local news.

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The feature, which can be accessed using the bottom right menu button in the Facebook app (the three horizontal lines), brings together human curation and machine learning to surface content. Whether local content becomes as potentially contentious as national news remains to be seen as the US enters mid-term election season this year.

Commentators point out that the social network's reported foray into local news publishing segment comes at a time when it is looking to fix the problem of misinformation and fake news on its platform.

Even generating that extra traffic will depend on whether or not Facebook users frequent the new section.

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