On Monday, January 29, Facebook News Product head Alex Hardiman and News Partnerships head Campbell Brown announced an update that will place trusted local sources atop News Feed. It means the social network will start promoting high quality, trusted news from local news publishers.
How it works
The social network will use the links clicked by readers living in a small geographic area to identify local publishers. For example, if most people who click on a publisher’s link come from San Francisco, Facebook’s algorithm will mark post as local news.
People who live in San Francisco will see posts from that source climb up the News Feed if they follow the publisher. If your friend shares an article from a local publisher, the link will most likely land higher in the feed.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted about the update on Monday,
People consistently tell us they want to see more local news on Facebook. Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities and affect our lives. Research suggests that reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement. People who know what’s happening around them are more likely to get involved and help make a difference.
Who will receive it first
The News Feed algorithm update will roll out in the U.S. first. They plan to expand to more countries later this year. But you can choose manually which news sources, local or national, you want atop your feed with See First.
What it means for publishers
Facebook said local news publishers of all sizes will benefit from the News Feed update. They will appear higher in News Feed for followers in their area.
The social network will consider local news, sports, arts, human-interest stories and local blogs as news sources. But it will exclude local events and businesses. For more, see their Publisher Guidelines.
In time, Facebook said they will improve in properly classifying local news publishers. All efforts are part of its push to curb fake news, misinformation, clickbait, extremist content, hate speech and inauthentic accounts.
Zuckerberg said the update to News Feed algorithms is part of his company’s plan to provide a platform that “isn’t just fun but also good for your well-being and for society.”
On January 11, Facebook announced that its switch to meaningful social interactions with friends and families will take a hit on the amount of news in News Feed. It will drop the amount from five percent to four.
The social network also worked with local news publishers through the Facebook Journalism Project in the past year.
Local news publishers participated in the majority of our collaborative product tests in 2017, including support for subscriptions in Instant Articles; call-to-action units, which are prompts for readers to like a publisher’s page or sign up for an email newsletter; and a new breaking news format in News Feed.
Apart from local news, Facebook is testing a Today In section in six U.S. cities. It connects people to news and info in their community and will expand all over the country in the next months.