Facebook has a new area of its app it will have to police for fake news and biased sensationalism. Facebook is launching “Today In”, its local news aggregator it began testing in January, in 400 US cities plus is now testing it in its first overseas spot in Australia. Users can open the Today In bookmark or opt in to getting digests of its local news in their feed. The feature includes previews that link out to news sites about top headlines, current discussions, school announcements and more plus content from local Pages and Events.
Facebook is also now testing Local Alerts with 100 local government and first responder Pages that can be issued to inform citizens about urgent issues or emergencies, such as where to take shelter from a hurricane. The Local Alerts are delivered via News Feed, Today In, and Pages can also target users with notifications about them.
Facebook is hoping to fill a void after surveys found 50 percent of users wanted more local news through Facebook. But it also opens up a new vector for policy issues, and it’s curious that Facebook would push forward on this given all its policy troubles as of late. It will have to ensure that Today In only aggregates content from reliable and fact-focused local outlets and doesn’t end up peddling fake news. But that in turn could expose it to criticism suggesting it’s biased against fringe political outlets that believe their clickbait is the real story.