A new Facebook Today In section is currently in testing, which involves human curators and machine learning to deliver local news and events…
Facebook is now testing a new section in its flagship app called Today In. It’s essentially a mash-up of local news and events and, it’s city-specific. The initial tests markets are New Orleans, Louisiana; Olympia, Washington; Billings, Montana; Binghamton, New York; Peoria, Illinois, and Little Rock, Arkansas. Test group users can access the section through the hamburger menu, located at the bottom right of the app.
Facebook Today In City-Specific Local News and Events Section in Testing
Heading up the initiative is the Facebook News Partnership team. The Facebook Today In feature uses both human curators and machine learning to power it. While this certainly isn’t the social network’s first foray into local markets, it’s one that holds promise.
Not every local publisher will make the cut. The Facebook Today In section only includes those organizations vetted by the social giant. Since it’s run by the News Partnerships crew, it’s likely at least somewhat picky.
The company has already tried a number of news-centric features. These include a breaking news label and tagging certain content with fact-checks. The real question is whether or not this will benefit end-user (and local news agencies, as well). Because Facebook Today In is tucked into a less conspicuous place and does not appear in the main News Feed, it’s uncertain how much traffic it will earn.
The company anticipates people will follow certain local cities, either because of residency or due to nostalgia (for instance, hometowns). Facebook has done much in the way of localizing content over the past eighteen months. It began surfacing more posts from local politicians and is expanding Marketplace to actual retailers.
Facebook intends to eventually make the section available to a wider audience.