Starting today, Facebook’s News Feed will serve up more local news for users in the United States. The change may roll out to other countries later this year. Plans to surface more local content were first announced a little over a week ago, when Facebook announced it may also place a premium on news outlets deemed informative or trustworthy by Facebook users, though a survey to determine the answer is only two questions long.
Today’s news is the latest in an initiative undertaken by the social media giant throughout the first month of 2018 to reshape its News Feed to serve up more posts from friends and family and fewer posts from things like public Facebook pages or news outlets.
“We identify local publishers as those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area. If a story is from a publisher in your area, and you either follow the publisher’s page or your friend shares a story from that outlet, it might show up higher in News Feed,” said Facebook head of news product Alex Hardiman and head of news partnerships Campbell Brown in a blog post.
Facebook defines local news as local news websites, local sports, and neighborhood blogs, but does not include things like local businesses or real estate.
In warnings earlier this month to Facebook users and businesses operating Facebook pages, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said some engagement metrics are likely to decline with the alterations to the News Feed.
Zuckerberg said the change was made in order to reduce the negative impact Facebook can have on people’s lives. When consumed passively, research has shown, Facebook can negatively affect a person’s happiness or mental health. The company maintains that active participation in comments and conversations can lead to happier Facebook users.
In other changes to the Facebook experience on the way, Messenger chief David Marcus said that the chat app used by 1.3 billion monthly active users has grown cluttered, and he announced earlier this month users should expect to “see us invest in massively simplifying and streamlining Messenger this year.”