Facebook Looks To Bolster Local News

Local news publishers stand to benefit from Facebook’s commitments to fight fake news and encourage more community activity on its platform. The social network is preparing a new initiative through its Journalism Project to give local news a higher profile and more accessibility for Facebook users.

It is testing a handful of new products as part of the local news push, according to Poynter, which first reported the news.

The first new feature is targeted at users who belong to local community groups on the social network, showing them where to get more local news on Facebook. Facebook is also offering a new local badge for people who share their location of residence, allowing them to identify themselves as locals when commenting on a news story from their area, plus a new tool for finding local groups on Facebook.

In the first case, a Facebook spokesperson tells Poynter the test “allows administrators of groups that regularly discuss local news to add a local news unit to the group. This unit will be dynamically populated based on our local news classifier with recent articles from local news publications that serve the location of the group. Members can then easily share an article from the unit as a link share in the group.”

Allowing local users to identify themselves when commenting on local news should also drive more engagement for local publishers including clicks, shares and comments, Facebook claims, as should recommendations for local Facebook groups where similar topics are discussed.

These are just a few of the first local news initiatives to be tested by Facebook, but its Journalism Project is already showcasing a number of innovative uses of its technology by local publishers to create and distribute news.

Two of the main areas of focus are live and long-form video, which Facebook has been promoting to publishers of all stripes over the last year.

Examples include a long-form video from the Chicago Tribune about former Mexican gang members in Chicago’s Little Village, a live streaming video of floods posted by in New Orleans, and live streaming video from KTLA 5 News about a school shooting in San Bernardino.
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