Facebook News is pursuing more granular current affairs coverage by surfacing regional stories of local interest alongside big stories of the day sourced from national publications.
An all-new local news section will cluster content by geography, enabling users to see at a glance what is happening within their home town or city simply by adding that location to the feed. Users will also be served a daily diet of content related to the location settings on your Facebook profile.
Facebook tightens grip on UK news
The localization launch follows the introduction of Facebook’s dedicated news section in the UK earlier this year when the social platform allocated a dedicated feed for curated news sourced from established publishers.
The content licensing arrangement sees Facebook pay out millions of dollars to its publishing partners – a deal lauded by Facebook as an example of how it can ’support the industry in building sustainable business models’.
With today’s news, Facebook is now taking that feature a step further, pushing more relevant content to people based on their location, removing the need for individuals to manually connect with local publishers.
Instead of connecting with multiple news outlets, members can utilize the ’add location’ to receive notifications of stories within any town or city of interest.
Promoting the change, Sarah Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships for Northern Europe, said: “With this new feature on Facebook News we want to drive traffic to local sites, helping publishers reach new audiences.”
Why does it matter?
Facebook’s embrace of localism can be set against a backdrop of intense scrutiny over its relationship with the media industry, a brewing confrontation that recently came to a head in Australia where the tech giant was briefly engaged in a stand-off over reimbursing publishers for content.
The episode saw Facebook initially blockade Australian derived news articles, only to backtrack after reaching an accommodation with the Australian government.
Seeking a more conciliatory position, Facebook has been at pains to showcase its support for struggling local news vendors through its Community News Project, a £2.25m annual training fund to recruit reporters across the UK which has just been extended for another year.
Facebook News rolls out local news section in the UK
Hundreds of local and national news outlets have already signed up to Facebook News, opening up new revenue and audience channels for media outlets.
The local news section was introduced successfully in the US last year to provide a more complete picture of what is happening in the world.