Staying up-to-date with what’s new in Facebook News Feed is beginning to feel like a fulltime job.
First, Facebook announced that they would be reducing the percentage of news on our newsfeed from 5% to 4%. Then they said they would “boost” trustworthy news sources. Now they say they will prioritize news from local outlets. These changes are coming amid accusations that Facebook algorithms prioritized misleading news and misinformation, thereby influencing politics in the US and other parts of the world.
This latest addition will allow users see more posts from local sources. This way they can see “topics that have a direct impact on you and your community and discover what’s happening in your local area.” This means “if you follow a local publisher or if someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in newsfeed.”
This update is to launch first in the United States before gradually expanding to other parts of the world Zuckerberg said.
Facebook’s algorithm is expected to identify a publisher as “local” if their links tend to be clicked on more “by readers in a tight geographical area.” According to a post by Zuckerberg, “People consistently tell us they want to see more local news on Facebook. Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities and affect our lives.”
By prioritizing local news stories, Facebook could benefit regional publishers who historically have struggled with connecting with audiences on their News Feed. It could also help reduce the menace of hoaxes and misinformation from pages designed to mimic local news sources.
According to Zuckerberg, “Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities and affect our lives.” “Research suggests that reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement. People who know what’s happening around them are more likely to get involved and help make a difference.
While this is cheering news for local publishers, they would do well to manage their expectations as they are still competing with a shrinking number of clicks. This is as speculated by investors who fear the changes will cause people to spend less time on Facebook. Only time will tell how the tide goes.
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