In the wake of the ‘fake news’ controversy, Facebook is now telling users to expect more news stories from your local area. This move is despite whatever settings you’ve placed for your news feed. This is according to the CEO Mark Zuckerberg, posted these changes of the company’s news feed. What this means is that people following a local news publication will end up seeing more stories from them. If you don’t follow a local news publication, that’s also quite alright- Facebook will show you what people from your network are reading.
The change brought about was after Zuckerberg’s self-guided tour around the US last year. The feedback he got was that there’s too much content on divisive issues being pushed around people’s news feed. Reducing such content and instead of getting people to focus on the issue of their local areas, it was said, people would end up progressively working together.
In the last month, this would be Facebook’s third announcement about changes made to the newsfeed. The first was with regards to an overhaul of the feed to minimize emphasis on news and commercial; this had been an issue for many people using the platform. The second announcement was about the social media company working to promote reputable publications as per what users deemed to be trustworthy.
Local news will be promoted after Facebook identifies what local publishers people within a tight geographical area where looking at. News deemed trustworthy could be informative news by freelancers that have a track record of generating quality content. That could be an investigative journalist with years of experience or a Grade 11 math tutor passionate about education. The aim of this is to promote both local and regional publishers, not just the ‘top dog’ global publications. The efforts will begin in the US before expanding to other countries around the globe.
The content promoted won’t be specific, for example political, but it will focus on local arts, human interest stories and sports. That will make news being promoted wholesome, catering to the greater interest of the Facebook community. Facebook made this announcement on a blog post published on their website.
Currently, 5% of the content in a user’s feed is news. There will be a one percent decrease after this change. It is an indication that the social media platform is committed to having its users in the know but is now employing smarter tactics that positively impacts them.
With a smaller news scope, Facebook will be able to tell apart unknown publications that make it to people’s news feeds propagating fake or harmful content. The move to focus on local content will shine a light on publishers within that area, most of whom didn’t have their content read. That could be because people tend to gravitate toward international news publications. It won’t, however, solve business problems local news outlets face, the most it will do is give them more exposure. There’s currently testing on this move in six cities. Only time will tell how this move plays out.