March 26, 2018 | Facebook | by Christopher Hendrickson

Facebook’s Local News Goes Global. Good News For Local Publishers?

Facebook is certainly going through a tough time. Perhaps in a bid to surround itself with some more positive news, the platform announced today that its experiments with local news in the U.S. are going global.

This means that Facebook users around the world will “see topics that have a direct impact on their community and discover what’s happening in their local area.”

Facebook’s foray into positioning itself as a breaking news platform certainly led to a number of issues for the platform, which found itself at the eye of the storm when it came to heated discussions around Fake News and echo chambers.

But will a focus on local news fix this? As Swapna Krishna suggests in her piece for Engadget, “exposing people to the news they already see on a daily basis, rather than injecting more national news into their feed, might reinforce existing biases.”

Facebook is not alone in its shift towards local news, too. As we have explored in the past, the duopoly are moving in unison.

But what does this all mean for publishers?

Well, Facebook said that “with this update, we’re helping local publishers who cover multiple, nearby cities reach audiences in those cities.” In theory this should result in local stories being surfaced by more local readers, which may lead to boosts in engagement.

On the other side of the coin, larger publishers might see their readership on Facebook fall. This excellent piece from Newswhip shows which publishers had the highest engagement rates on Facebook in September of last year. How might we see this develop in the future?

Could Facebook’s change play a role in building stronger communities, too? Research from the Pew Research Center and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation “reveals that the civically engaged are indeed more likely than the less engaged to use and value local news.”

It is important for publishers to track these complex changes, so be sure to pay particular attention to the performance of your Facebook pages over the coming weeks.

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