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“Today In” Facebook’s publishing dreams, find a local news section

Facebook has launched a local news aggregator called “Today In” that will provide alerts from relevant (it does not explain this) government pages and the local community. Right now, it is available in over 400 cities in the United States and has been launched for a test in its first overseas spot, Australia.

Facebook has also started testing Today In in communities located in places that have a low supply of local news and community information by supplementing with relevant content from surrounding areas. At this stage, Facebook does not specify where it would be sourcing this information from.

Facebook users can use this interactive map to see if Today In is available in their city. Today In is available in a separate section within the Facebook app which includes features such as news links and their previews, top headlines, current discussions and crime reports among others.

Facebook started testing Today In in January this year in six cities. It later expanded to 25 cities and now is in 400, after it found in survey that over 50 percent respondents wanted to see more local news in their feed.

Today In is a part of Facebook’s Journalism Project initiative. The company launched this initiative shortly after the 2016 US presidential elections when the spread of fake news on Facebook was attributed as one of the reasons for the current US President Donald Trump’s victory.

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In its announcement earlier, Facebook said that its goal is to show high quality news that’s broadly trusted, informative and relevant.

Main features of Today In

Facebook is also running a test with over 100 local government and first responder pages to communicate time sensitive and important information with its users. The local alerts label will appear in News Feed and Today In.

  • Facebook is also testing a notification which participating pages can use to target people who live in the affected areas. The City of Charlotte Government is one of Facebook’s first partners to test local alerts.

  • Facebook said that local government pages participating in the test can mark their posts as local alerts at their discretion for up to six hours.
  • This, however, will not affect the ranking of posts in a user’s Facebook News Feed. These participating pages can post up to 35 local alerts over a rolling 30-day period.

Facebook’s initiatives to stop the spread of fake news

  • In November, Facebook partnered with news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) to curb the spread of fake news including photos and videos on its platform ahead of 2019 General Elections in India
  • In September, Facebook announced that it would screen photos and videos for fake news across 17 countries through its 27 independent third–party partners.
  • In April this year, Facebook announced a partnership with Mumbai-based fact-checking website BOOM.
  • Facebook rolled out a feature that provided more information on both publishers and articles that users saw in their News Feeds. (Only in the US)
  • In August 2017, Facebook said that it would ban ads from pages that repeatedly shared fake news.

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