Facebook to show more local news content in News Feed in US trial

Facebook has said it will be showing more content from local news sources in its News Feed as part of a trial in the US that is set to expand abroad.

Local publishers will be identified as those clicked on by readers in a “tight” geographical area that have a “direct impact” on users.

“If a story is from a publisher in your area, and you either follow the publisher’s ‘page’ or your friend shares a story from that outlet, it might show up higher in News Feed,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

The change rolls out today in the US, and will expand to other counties this year. It is not known when the updates will arrive in the UK.

There are no eligibility constraints on publishers, which the company says will benefit large local publishers and more “niche” outlets. Users will still be able to change their news preferences using Facebook’s See First feature.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said: “Many people told me they thought that if we could turn down the temperature on the more divisive issues and instead focus on concrete local issues, then we’d all make more progress together.”

Facebook has worked with local news publishers through its Journalism Project, formed last year, which sought “stronger ties to the news industry”. 

The move is the latest in a string of changes announced by the social media giant that will affect publishers.

It announced major changes to its News Feed earlier this month that would de-prioritise posts from publishers in a move that was branded “deeply significant for the publishing industry”.

Last week, it faced criticism for a decision letting users decide whether a news source is trustworthy or not in a two-question survey. 

Picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

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