By Alex Hardiman, Head of News Product and Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships, Facebook
People tell us they come to Facebook to connect with friends. They also say they want to see news about what’s happening in the world and their local community. This month, we’ve announced changes to prioritize posts from friends and high-quality news sources. Today, we’re updating News Feed to also prioritize local news so that you can see topics that have a direct impact on you and your community and discover what’s happening in your local area.
We identify local publishers as those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area. If a story is from a publisher in your area, and you either follow the publisher’s Page or your friend shares a story from that outlet, it might show up higher in News Feed.
To start, this change is taking effect in the US, and we plan to expand to more countries this year. You can always choose which news sources, including local or national publications, that you want to see at the top of your feed with our See First feature.
What This Means for Publishers
As we announced earlier this month, we expect the amount of news in News Feed to go down as we focus on meaningful social interactions with family and friends over passive consumption. We are prioritizing local news as a part of our emphasis on high-quality news, and with today’s update, stories from local news publishers may appear higher in News Feed for followers in publishers’ geographic areas. This change is one of the many signals that go into News Feed ranking. For more, see our Publisher Guidelines.
There are no constraints on which publishers are eligible, which means large local publishers will benefit, as well as publishers that focus on niche topics like local sports, arts and human-interest stories. That said, small news outlets may benefit from this change more than other outlets, because they tend to have a concentrated readership in one location.
This is just the beginning of our efforts to prioritize high-quality news. This update may not capture all small or niche-interest publishers at first, but we are working to improve precision and coverage over time. All of our work to reduce false news, misinformation, clickbait, sensationalism and inauthentic accounts still applies.
Our Commitment to Local News
We’ve worked closely with local publishers through the Facebook Journalism Project over the last year, visiting newsrooms around the world to provide training and support for journalists, as well as building products that work for their publications and readers. Local news publishers participated in the majority of our collaborative product tests in 2017, including support for subscriptions in Instant Articles; call-to-action units, which are prompts for readers to like a publisher’s page or sign up for an email newsletter; and a new breaking news format in News Feed.
In addition to prioritizing local news, we are also testing a dedicated section on Facebook that connects people to news and information in their community, called Today In. We are testing this in six US cities and plan to expand in the coming months.
These efforts to prioritize quality news in News Feed, including this local initiative, are a direct result of the ongoing collaboration with partners. Our goal is to show more news that connects people to their local communities, and we look forward to improving and expanding these efforts this year.