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Revamped Facebook News now live in US, adds local news section

Revamped Facebook News now live in US, adds local news section

San Francisco:  Calling itself a Fifth Estate, Facebook has launched its revamped News tab in the US that includes a dedicated local news section among other topics, including breaking news alerts.

The Facebook News tab, seen on mobile only at the moment, has features like timely news digests (‘COVID-19 News’ or ‘Unrest in America’), targeted notifications and more, reports TechCrunch.

The notifications will appear at the top and may include alerts of a live video or breaking news like live coverage of George Floyd’s funeral.

According to the report, Facebook is also testing videos for the News tab. Currently, the majority of the publishers are local outlets, along with over 200 general news publishers.

“Our research indicates that people on Facebook want a wide variety of news, so we’re working to ensure that we have sufficient content to meet those interests. We’re focused on including four main categories of publishers: general, topical, diverse and local news publishers,” the social networking giant said in its FAQ.

For News specifically, Facebook looks at people’s engagement and interest with topics across stories and publishers.

“These signals allow Facebook News to better serve people looking for the biggest stories of the day to catch up, provide a personalized, relevant news experience, and also serve a range of interests when they visit Facebook News,” said the company.

Facebook said it also gives people tools to control their news experience, by hiding publishers or topics they don’t want to see.

“We are developing additional tools for people to add their favourite sources, specify their location to see more relevant local news, as well as tie their paid subscriptions to Facebook News,” it added.

The Facebook News team is transparent about guidelines and will make curatorial choices independently, not at the direction of Facebook, publishers or advertisers.

“They will apply the same guidelines and criteria to our coverage about Facebook as we would to any other company or industry,” said Facebook.

Before a dedicated News tab, Facebook had “Instant Articles” that restricted advertising, subscriptions and the recirculation modules publishers relied on, leading many to abandon the feature.

In 2018, the company decided to prioritise friends and family posts in its News Feed, sidelining news outlets.

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