After launching tests to limited locations in the fall, Facebook’s dedicated news tab now houses local news for users in the U.S. Moving from testing to an official product this spring, Facebook introduced local news into the new tool. Facebook News houses journalism exclusively from a list of vetted sources while using algorithms to personalize the news that each user sees.
The Facebook News tab comes as social networks face increasing scrutiny for handling of fake news. Publishers on the new dedicated tab are selected based on “integrity signals” which Facebook developed with journalists to determine what publishers to include. The list is designed to eliminate publishers that share fake news and clickbait. The tab is partially determined by algorithms and part human curators, with journalists selecting the top stories listed in the first subsection of the new tab.
Facebook told Digital Trends that the Today tab will soon be absorbed into the News tab to place local and national news in one location. The social network also says it is testing news video.
Located in the Facebook menu by tapping the three-line “hamburger” and then finding the news box, the News Tab is divided into subsections at the top. The first section covers top news, as well as sections for common topics like sports and science. A local tab at the top directs users to news in their area or from a city selected in the settings. The sections may also change with the news — for example, George Floyd Protests is currently a dedicated tab.
Facebook, however, is giving people some control over what news they see through different controls. On any Facebook News article, tap the “…” to see additional options. In the pop-up menu, you can choose to hide the article or hide all articles from a specific source.
If the article just doesn’t mesh with your interests, tap on the “Give feedback on this article” option, and select “not relevant to my interests,” then tap the next button.
The News settings also houses a handful of options, accessible by tapping the gear icon in the upper right corner. The top section allows you to set your city to receive local news — choosing a larger nearby city will result in more news articles than using a small town. Under the curated content section, users can choose to eliminate the stories chosen by journalists and only read stories selected via algorithms.
Fighting fake news is an ongoing struggle for the social media platform that’s often criticized for spreading fake news while others cry censorship when content is removed for violating the network’s misinformation policies. Sourcing news from a list of reputable sources may help, but the new launch doesn’t affect articles shared in the News Feed. Many users go straight for the News Feed, and the news tab’s location in the settings menu may mean some users won’t realize its existence.
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