After facing sharp criticism for fake news spread on Facebook, the social media giant has taken some firm steps to curb the menace. As per the report circulated by WSJ, Facebook launched Today In feature earlier this year. And now Facebook is on the expansion spree in the United States.
According to the news, Facebook has expanded this local news feature to more than 400 US cities. Notably, Facebook attracted a lot of negative remarks on false news and data privacy issues. But now, the social network company wants to keep users engaged on its platform.
Facebook’s Local News Feature Goes Places in the US
Following surveys, Facebook came to the conclusion that people want more local news as they want to stay abreast of their local community and information on this social network.
Any user can start his/her day with this Today In feature as it serves weather information and traffic on roads on the Facebook app. The information can be seen on the news feeds; moreover, this feature also shows headlines from local newspapers, who have created their Facebook pages.
During its pilot project, Facebook got tremendous success as this feature helped residents to get information like natural disasters. This year, Facebook expanded a test of Today Into 25 cities including Macon, Ga., Charleston, W.Va., and Shreveport, La.
The company has also been running tests with more than 100 city governments and first-responder agencies.
Why this local news feature?
In its efforts to filter out fake accounts created to manipulate US politics, Facebook introduced this feature as this will restrict clickbait or contents generated to trap users.
On the other hand, this expansion of Today In can be looked suspiciously by traditional news media as the conventional media always want to grab the attention of users on Facebook and direct them to their own websites. Facebook enjoys a large chunk of digital advertising market pie, and this has caused discord between Facebook and the traditional media.
However, Facebook claimed that it is expanding this feature in the areas where there is a “low supply of local news and community information.”
David Chavern, News Media Alliance chief, said in a statement that, “The organization, which represents 2,000 news organizations in the U.S., hasn’t received much feedback from members about the Today In feature, including whether it has the potential to boost their bottom lines.”
He further said, “While the offering of news-enhancing products and services are certainly welcome, we are most interested in monetization of our content that allows our members to reinvest in quality journalism.”
In a counter-argument, Facebook’s spokeswoman said Today In feature is beneficial to publishers as they can engage with their users on this digital platform; it is a better way to connect with the users than in the platform’s main News Feed. She added that users can always consume publishers’ content using Today In feature even though they don’t follow the publishers on Facebook. This can be seen as an opportunity to invite new readers.
Facebook has killed two birds with a single stone. Today In will not only curb the menace of fake news but also bring more readers/visitors, who will watch Facebook ads. Let’s hope traditional media support this new feature launched by Facebook.
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