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Facebook testing new feature to host city-specific local news

12 January 2018

It's part of Facebook's Journalism Project Initiative, which includes creating local news partnerships as one of its objectives.

For its new local hub, Facebook is starting with a small batch of test markets.

The product, called "Today In" is only available on the Facebook mobile app and is being tested in six United States cities: New Orleans, LA; Little Rock, AR; Billings, MT; Peoria, IL; Olympia, WA; Binghamton, NY.

Facebook is now testing "Today In" in New Orleans; Little Rock, Ark.; Billings, Mont.; Peoria, Ill.; Olympia, Wash.; and Binghamton, N.Y., according to Recode.

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A machine learning (ML) software will power the "Today In" section, helping a team find local content.

The project is part of Facebook's Journalism Project initiative, which it launched past year following the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook is cautiously hand-selecting local publishers to feature on this new section of the app that should help keep fake news at bay to a large extent and thus substantially prevent the dissemination of false information to the user base. "This tactic, known as "engagement bait", seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach", explained Henry Silverman, operations integrity specialist at Facebook". News that is specific to the related communities and cities will be given in the user's feed. The feature will be available for users through the bottom-right menu button on Facebook.

The content will be pulled from posts already shared by vetted publishers, groups and other pages.

Facebook testing new feature to host city-specific local news