Local news to get a bump in Facebook news feeds

After previous changes put less news in user feeds, the social platform wants to make sure local sources find a place.
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Facebook is altering its news feed algorithm Monday so that Canadians will see more news from local sources in their home feeds.

The company said the update is designed to help local publishers reach audiences in their cities and those nearby. It won’t be as simple as people in one city getting more news from news organizations in that city. Facebook specified that it would consider some publishers “local to multiple cities.”

So if a news site for a Hamilton, Ont. newspaper is commonly read by people in neighbouring St. Catherines, for example, Facebook will also prioritize that publication in those users’ feeds.

The change took place in the U.S. earlier this year.

The company also reiterated that it would continue to “prioritize high quality news” in the feed, including news from broadly trusted sources. Facebook faces criticism for its perceived indifference to so-called “fake news” being allowing to populate user feeds. The U.K. government is asking CEO Mark Zuckerberg to meet with regulators in person to address this issue and the ongoing fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook has spent the last several months re-tooling its news feeds in several markets, including Canada. In January, Facebook announced that it would deprioritize content from Pages (which many brands and media companies use to house content on the service) in favour of content that had been organically liked and commented-on.

Also in January, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company estimated that news would make up roughly 4% of news feeds following that change, down from roughly 5% in the past.

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