Facebook has announced it will promote local news stories as it continues to alter the information it shows to millions of users following accusations the site has increasingly been used as a platform for fake news sources.
In its latest announcement, the company says users will see more posts from local sources “so that you can see topics that have a direct impact on you and your community and discover what’s happening in your local area.”
“Starting today, we’re going to show more stories from news sources in your local town or city,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post, adding that the shift would help to “build community” and ensure “the time we spend on Facebook is valuable.”
Zuckerberg said that if a user follows a local publisher or if someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in News Feed. The local news update began rolling out Monday, Facebook said. It will expand to more countries this year.
“Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities and affect our lives,” he wrote. “Research suggests that reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement. People who know what’s happening around them are more likely to get involved and help make a difference.”
According to a report from Recode, local news outlets have suffered as the newspaper industry struggles with spiraling revenue, declining subscriptions, and widespread layoffs. An assist from Facebook could bring them more readers, though the method for converting additional clicks into a commensurate rise in profits has largely eluded the industry.
This month, Facebook has also said that it will soon begin prioritizing user content over posts from news outlets and other brands. It will also start ranking news publishers based on how much users trust them, prioritizing posts from outlets with high trust ratings.