- Facebook is expanding "Today In," its local-focused news hub, to more than 400 cities.
- Today In shows users news, posts, and events from their local area.
- But it also provides a new avenue through which misinformation and fake news could spread.
Facebook is widely rolling out a new feature for local news and events, a tool intended to engage users with their local communities that also opens up a new front in the company's battle against fake news and disinformation.
On Wednesday, the social network announced that it is expanding "Today In" to more than 400 cities across the US, as well as some in Australia. It had previously been tested in around 100 American cities. (There's a complete map of cities where the feature is available here.)
It is also trialing an alert system that will let government pages flag "time-sensitive and need-to-know information," such as natural disasters and road closures, to users.
Today In is a portal that sits inside the main Facebook app and provides local-focused news and updates for users about their area, as well as nearby events and posts. But for years, Facebook has been bedeviled by fake news and hoaxes spreading on its platform; if the company is not careful, Today In could provide a new avenue in which hyper-local falsehoods could spread.
Local news has suffered heavily from falling advertising revenues and layoffs in recent years, and Facebook (and Google) have been heavily criticised for contributing to this. Today In may help to get local news outlets greater exposure — but it seems unlikely to reverse the trend alone.
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