Facebook has announced it is expanding its local news alert to 400 US cities, and is testing the feature in Australia. “Today In” includes previews that link to news websites and relevant government pages about top headlines, current discussions, weather and more. A separate section within the app will allow users to receive local updates.
A decline in the number of local news organizations is said to have inspired Facebook’s “Today In” section. It is understood the social network will monitor the app in a bid to remove fake news and biased sensationalism.
"Earlier this year, we started testing Today In after we did research in which over 50 percent of people told us they wanted to see more local news and community information on Facebook -- more than any other type of content we asked about," said product manager Andrea Watson Strong in a blog post.
"The research showed that people wanted both what might be traditionally understood as local news -- breaking news or information about past events like city council meetings, crime reports and weather updates -- as well as community information that could help them make plans, like bus schedules, road closures and restaurant openings.
The app will also feature a First Responder page which could be used to inform citizens in emergencies such as floods or hurricanes.
"People tell us it is important to receive timely, local updates in situations that directly affect them or that require them to take action, such as major road closures, blackouts or natural disasters," Strong said.