Facebook Spot-tests New Local News Feed

I have no reason to trust Facebook to filter my news for me. However, so many people get their news by social media, maybe this will be an easy way for people to check whether a viral meme is a hoax. Maybe an option marked “Look up vetted news reports related to this post.” Yes, advertising the way the process will work is a big improvement over their previous cloaked-in-secrecy “trending topics” feed-vetting attempts. But Facebook makes it so hard for its users inmates to break the fetters of the Facebook’s built-in browser, Joe Sixpack is likely just to continue depending, helplessly and unknowingly, on Facebook’s self-serving algorithm. If Facebook risks losing money by hiding fake news and promoting real news, they have no motivation to do so.

The social network is testing a new section inside its app called “Today In,” a feed made up entirely of local news, events and announcements.

The test is running in just six cities for now: New Orleans, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Billings, Mont.; Peoria, Ill.; Olympia, Wash.; and Binghamton, N.Y. Facebook users who self-identify as living in those areas will be able to visit the new section to see local information, like stories from local publishers or emergency updates from local authorities.

Facebook is using a mix of humans and machine learning software to surface content in this new section. Local news publishers who appear there will all be approved and vetted by the company’s News Partnerships team, which is overseen by former NBC news anchor Campbell Brown, according to a company spokesperson. —Recode

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