Tuesday 13 April 2021 6:55 am

Facebook News enters local news market in UK

Facebook News is adding a local news section designed to give more prominence to regional stories as well as those from national publications.

The social network’s news section launched in the UK earlier this year as a dedicated space for news articles on the site.

Facebook pays publishers for their content, which is shown in a special feed on the social media platform.

The new local news section will enable users to choose to receive news from publishers in the town or city they live or are interested in by adding that location to the feed – the section will also serve users news based on the location they have set on their Facebook profile.

Until now, the feature has only shown users local news from publishers there were already connected with on the platform.

Scrutiny

Facebook’s relationship with the news industry has come under scrutiny in recent months following a stand-off in Australia over Facebook paying publishers for content as the country debated a proposed bill on the issue, and which briefly saw Facebook block news content from the site in Australia.

In the wake of that incident, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden spoke to Facebook executives – including former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg, now the social network’s communications boss – on the issue, warning that “turning the tap off on news in a global pandemic” was “concerning” and a “nuclear option” which must be avoided in future.

Sarah Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships for Northern Europe, said of the new local news feature: “Connecting people to local news has never been so important and many people have come to rely on local outlets for the latest information throughout the pandemic.

“With this new feature on Facebook News we want to drive traffic to local sites, helping publishers reach new audiences.

“For people on Facebook, they can now see the local news they care about alongside the biggest national stories of the day.”

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