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Facebook is testing a new local news feed on mobile called “Today In," according to Recode.

Why it matters: The company has been criticized over the past year for not doing enough to support publishers and to police fake news on its site. This update demonstrates Facebook's commitment to addressing both issues via artificial intelligence.

According to Recode's report, the test is currently only running in six cities: New Orleans, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Billings, Mont.; Peoria, Ill.; Olympia, Wash.; and Binghamton, N.Y.

  • The product could compete with Snapchat, which added hyper-local stories to its news platform via "College Stories" last year, and sources say the the company may have plans to expand into local news markets.
  • Google has also taken steps to elevate local news sources in search results over the past year.

Facebook has been investing in local news and events for some time, opening up its free social analytics tool "Crowdtangle" to local publishers last year and establishing a standalone events app called "Facebook Local."

It's unclear how much local publishers will benefit from the exposure of the new feed. One can assume that the initiative is aimed at bolstering relationships with local news companies because it will be managed under the "Facebook Journalism Project" umbrella, which was developed last year to strengthen Facebook's publisher relationships.

Go deeper

The modern way to hire a big-city police chief

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
23 mins ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.