Facebook is testing local news and events section for local publishers

Confirmed: Less face time for brands and media on Facebook Newsfeed

Confirmed: Less face time for brands and media on Facebook Newsfeed

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". For now, the test is running in six cities of the USA, while the company is also planning to expand it to more countries after the test completes.

The test is running in just six cities for now: New Orleans, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Billings, Mont.; Peoria, Ill.; Olympia, Wash.; and Binghamton, N.Y. Facebook users who self-identify as living in those areas will be able to visit the new section to see local information, like stories from local publishers or emergency updates from local authorities.

The experiment is apparently being led by Facebook's News Partnerships team, which is employing human curation and machine learning to fuel the content found in the "Today In" section.

The project is part of Facebook's Journalism Project initiative, which it launched previous year following the 2016 presidential election.

This features is launched after the company has faced fake news issue. "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".

But, the question that cuts through is will this section benefit the local publishers, or not?

The users in the batches in which the test is going on can access the icon on the bottom of the menu in their mobile app. 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. News that is specific to the related communities and cities will be given in the user's feed.

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