SAN FRANCISCO: In what could spell trouble for already struggling local newsrooms globally, Facebook has introduced a dedicated “News” feature on its platform that will highlight the most relevant national stories of the day.
Currently available for users in the US, the tab will give people more control over the stories they see, and the ability to explore a wider range of their news interests, directly within the Facebook app, the company said in a statement on Friday.
News articles will continue to appear in News Feed as they do now.
Under the dedicated “News” tab, Today’s Stories: will be chosen by a team of journalists.
It will allow personalisation based on the news you read, share and follow.
The “News” tab will have topic sections to dive deeper into the business, entertainment, health, science and tech and sports.
“Subscriptions will be a section for people who have linked their paid news subscriptions to their Facebook account and they will have control to hide articles, topics and publishers they don’t want to see,” said Campbell Brown, VP, Global News Partnerships at Facebook.
According to Facebook, it aims to serve both people and news publishers, and not just the big national players.
“We want new forms of journalism in the digital age, including individual, independent journalism, to flourish. So we will continue to expand the algorithmic selection of stories driving the majority of Facebook News,” said the company.
Facebook News will feature a wide range of content across four categories of publishers: general, topical, diverse and local news.
During the initial test, Facebook will showcase local original reporting by surfacing local publications from the largest major metro areas across the US.
“In the coming months, we’ll include local news from the Today In, our local news and community information tab, which recently expanded to over 6,000 US towns and cities,” said Facebook.
The first 200 news outlets include “alt-right” Breitbart News, despite its history of white nationalism and propagating racist conspiracies.
Facebook CEO Zuckerberg declined to talk about why Breitbart was included, but said that for the news section to be a trustworthy source, it must include a diverse range of views.