As Facebook continues to fight the fallout from the data harvesting exploits of Cambridge Analytica, the social network giant is getting back to basics today with the global expansion of an algorithm update it hopes will foster a stronger community spirit among its users.
Back in January, the company announced it would begin prioritizing news that emanates from local sources, promoting a local newspaper report as opposed to a national title in your feed, for example.
This update will now be expanding beyond the U.S. into all the company’s markets and languages.
There are a number of reasons Facebook is focusing on local news, one being that national news is likely to be of a more polarizing or politicized nature. Local news may be divisive as well, however it’s also more likely to be of direct interest to people in terms of their day-to-day lives. And this feeds into another of Facebook’s growing investments, vis-à-vis communities.
Facebook has made no secret of its renewed mission to help people have more meaningful social interactions, and the company even launched the Facebook Communities Summit in the U.S. last year to bring group and page admins together under one roof. The company later expanded the event to Europe, while last month it pledged up to $10 million in grants for a new community leadership program.
Although Facebook has become a highly powerful platform for sharing (mis)information globally, it wants to get back to its roots as a social network that connects people with others in their locale.
“Local news helps people connect to their communities about the issues that are closest to home,” Facebook said in a blog post. “Now, people around the world will see more news on Facebook from local sources covering their current city and other cities they may care about.”
The algorithm isn’t completely cut and dried — much of it will depend on Pages that you follow and the degree to which your friends share certain stories. But essentially, Facebook identifies local publishers based on links that are clicked specifically by people in a “tight” geographic region, and if you’re based in that region, you will be more likely to see those stories higher up in your news feed moving forward.
A focus on local news represents part of Facebook’s bigger push to emphasize quality in people’s news feed, and it has previously revealed it will prioritize informative and trustworthy news sources.