As it continues its quest to offer more informative and useful information to users, Facebook appears to be testing a new feature that would offer users city-specific news, events, and more. As reported by TechCrunch, Facebook is calling this feature “Today In” and testing it in select markets…
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Initially, Facebook is testing “Today In” with a handful of cities around the United States: New Orleans, Louisiana; Olympia, Washington; Billings, Montana; Binghamton, New York; Peoria, Illinois and Little Rock, Arkansas.
Facebook’s News Partnerships team is leading the experiment, using both human curation and machine learning to fuel the content found in the “Today In” section. Facebook’s algorithmic methods for pushing content have come under fire recently, so it’s notable that the company is employing some human curators here.
The move comes as part of Facebook’s Journalism Project Initiative, a program the company announced in January 2017 that seeks to build out local news partnerships, among other goals.
Currently, “Today In” is accessible in via the menu button in the bottom-right of the main Facebook app. In this section, users see recent news from local outlets, as well as local groups, opportunities to “get closer to your community,” and events.
The feature is currently in its early stages and its unclear what plans Facebook has to roll it out to additional cities. TechCrunch notes that while users may appreciate the local aspect of “Today In,” Facebook could have trouble attracting advertisers to feeds that are smaller and less diverse in nature.
Unfortunately, dramatically shrinking the scope of the world’s biggest social network might not appeal to stockholders and advertisers in quite the same way that it would appeal to users.
On the other hand, offering a hub of sorts for quickly finding local stories and events could dramatically increase Facebook’s usefulness to users that have been turned off by the main News Feed’s algorithmic sorting of content and posts.
Do you think “Today In” is a step in the right direction for Facebook, or is there more the company needs to do? Let us know down in the comments.