Facebook testing local news section on its platform

Mark Zuckerberg says the goal of the product teams will be to help Facebook’s 2 billion monthly users find content that will lead to more meaningful social interactions

For its new local hub, Facebook is starting with a small batch of test markets. The local news pushed to users will be selected by Facebook's algorithm and vetted by the news partnership team at Facebook, which is spearheaded by former NBC news anchor, Campbell Brown. Those initial cities are New Orleans, Louisiana; Olympia, Washington; Billings, Montana; Binghamton, New York; Peoria, Illinois and Little Rock, Arkansas. It's part of Facebook's Journalism Project Initiative, which includes creating local news partnerships as one of its objectives.

The move comes as part of Facebook's Journalism Project announced in January past year to curb the spread of fake news on its platform and build out local news partnerships.

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Facebook users who identify themselves as residents of those areas will see local information like emergency updates from local authorities or news content from local publishers. There was a charge being circulated against Facebook that during the election season, a so-called fake news doing rounds on the social network was partially responsible for Donald Trump's unexpected victory, and so the tech giant was partly to blame for it. Eventually, the company hopes to roll it out to more locations and allow users to follow a city they don't reside in. Whether local content becomes as potentially contentious as national news remains to be seen as the US enters mid-term election season this year.

Going "Local" spells out the theme for Facebook over the last 18 months as it started providing more posts from local politicians and is also expanding Marketplace, its Craigslist-style platform that is used by people for sale of products to their neighbors.

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On the flipside, the report notes that while users may appreciate the local aspect of "Today In", Facebook could have trouble attracting advertisers to feeds that are smaller and less diverse in nature.

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