It’s Local News’ Turn for a Facebook News Feed Algorithm Boost

Small outlets may benefit more from this change

Local publishers are defined as 'those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area' Facebook
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CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post earlier this month that he asked the social network’s “product teams to make sure we prioritize news that is trustworthy, informative and local,” and Facebook revealed Monday that its News Feed algorithm has been tweaked once again to prioritize the former.

Head of news product Alex Hardiman and head of news partnerships Campbell Brown announced in a Newsroom post Monday that posts from local publishers will be prioritized in News Feed.

Publishers are fighting for a smaller piece of the pie—Zuckerberg said earlier this month that news will represent approximately 4 percent of posts in News Feed, down from 5 percent before this month’s series of algorithm changes began—so any changes to the algorithm are significant for publishers. That being said, Monday’s announcement is a drop in the bucket compared with Zuckerberg’s announcement earlier this month that Facebook users will “see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard.”

Hardiman and Brown said local publishers are defined as “those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area,” adding that posts from those publishers may show up higher in News Feed if people follow those publishers’ pages or if their friends share stories from those news outlets.

The two Facebook news executives said of the effect on publishers, “There are no constraints on which publishers are eligible, which means large local publishers will benefit, as well as publishers that focus on niche topics like local sports, arts and human-interest stories. That said, small news outlets may benefit from this change more than other outlets, because they tend to have a concentrated readership in one location.”

The latest News Feed algorithm change is being rolled out in the U.S., with other countries to follow later this year, and Facebook reminded people that they can use its See First feature to ensure that they see stories from their favorite news sources, local or national.

Zuckerberg posted about Monday’s change, saying in part, “People consistently tell us that they want to see more local news on Facebook. Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities and affect our lives. Research suggests that reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement. People who know what’s happening around them are more likely to get involved and help make a difference.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.