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Facebook tests local news feed on mobile

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.