After limited testing, the local news aggregator feature is now available to Facebook users in roughly 400 cities nationwide. As for international users, Facebook is testing Today In in Australia before rolling it out more broadly.
With “Today In,” Facebook isn’t only targeting busy news markets, according to Anthea Watson Strong, product manager, local news and community information at the tech titan.
“We have started testing Today In in communities located in news deserts, places with a low supply of local news and community information, by supplementing with relevant content from surrounding areas,” Strong notes in a new blog post.
Strong said “Today In” is a response to user demand for more local news and information.
After conducting user research earlier in the year, Facebook found that over 50% of users expressed a desire for more local news -- more than any other type of content.
Users said they wanted breaking news, city council meetings, crime reports, weather updates and the like, as well as community information such as bus schedules, road closures and restaurant openings, Facebook found.
Separately, Facebook is also starting a test for local alerts from relevant government pages. “Local government Pages participating in the test can mark their posts as ‘local alerts’ at their discretion,” according to Strong.
Pages can post up to 35 local alerts over a rolling 30-day period, as well as mark a post as a local alert for up to six hours.Strong assured that doing so will not affect the ranking of posts in the News Feed, noting that local alerts are not intended to replace emergency-alert systems.