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Zuckerberg Promises: “More Local News on Facebook”

Mark Zuckerberg isn’t mincing words: “Our next update is to promote news from local sources.” That’s right… Zuck wants to put MORE local news in News Feed, not less. In his post, he calls this the latest in a “series of updates meant to show more high quality, trusted news.” And presumably less of the “fake news” which has brought an onslaught of criticism to the social giant.

What This Means for Publishers

According to the News Feed blog, “with today’s update, stories from local news publishers may appear higher in News Feed for followers in publishers’ geographic areas.” Facebook’s Head of News Product, Alex Haridman goes on to detail several scenarios which would lead to increased Reach for a local publisher:

  • There are no constraints on which publishers are eligible.
  • Large local publishers will benefit, as well as publishers that focus on niche topics like local sports, arts and human-interest stories.
  • Small news outlets may benefit from this change more than other outlets, because they tend to have a concentrated readership in one location.

How Does It Work?

This change starts in the US today and Facebook says it is working to improve precision and coverage over time. The process of determining if a news publisher is “local” to the Facebook user appears to be dependent on the location of the users reading articles on the publisher’s site. If Facebook’s algorithm detects a lot of people in Jacksonville, FL clicking on posts with links to www.jacksonville.com, then it uses that to determine that the domain and the Page connected to that domain are local to the Jacksonville, FL user area. Here’s a handy infographic:

Now What?

Stay the course. Facebook emphasizes that is one of many signals used to determine what shows up in News Feed. So your good content and audience engagement still count…. for a lot. And your best practices will continue to be as important as ever when it comes to driving traffic from Facebook to your local-news website. Chances are, your news org is already way ahead on this change simply by being local. If you look at your Facebook Page demographics or your Google Analytics – the vast majority of your audience is geographically local to you. Mission accomplished.

The War on Fake News

With today’s announcement, Mark Zuckerberg made it clear that local news is one of the good guys. He’s on our side – or rather, we’re on his – when it comes to the fight against “fake news.” A welcome clarification for droves of local news publishers who had started to feel like collateral damage in a war they didn’t start and couldn’t end. So, local-news friends… go ahead, you can breath now.

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Kim Wilson

Founder/President
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