By Joey Rhyu, Product Manager

Earlier this year we made a commitment to show more high quality news on Facebook. People tell us they want to see informative news about what is happening around them, when it happens, on Facebook.

Getting clear signal on what stories are breaking news can help. We’ve been running a test in the US that lets a small group of local and national publishers identify and label breaking news. Starting this week, we will expand the test so that more than 50 additional publishers in North America, Latin America, Europe and Australia will be able to label their stories as breaking news on Facebook. If the expansion is successful, we may add more publishers.

Publishers in the test will be able to label Instant Articles, mobile and web links, and Facebook Live as breaking news. They can use the indicator once a day, setting how long the story is marked as breaking for (up to 6 hours). Publishers also have an extra pool of 5 indicators per month. The posts will appear in News Feed and there will be information in Page Insights so that publishers can track how their tagged posts perform. Readers will also be able to provide feedback when they don’t consider a story to be breaking news by clicking in the top-right drop-down menu of a post. This feedback will help us improve the way we show breaking news.

From this initial test, we’ve seen positive results. People in the US engage more with posts that are labeled as breaking news. From December 8th to January 14th there was a:

  • 4% lift in clickthrough rate
  • 7% lift in Likes
  • 4% lift in Comments
  • 11% lift in Shares

One of our alpha test partners, The Washington Post, said:

“We’ve been pleased to collaborate with Facebook to elevate breaking news on their platform and are excited – but not surprised – to see readers respond the way they have. Delivering accurate information quickly has always been core to our mission, and in an overwhelming news cycle we want our readers to be able to easily identify when there’s new reporting.” Dave Merrell, Lead Product Manager at The Washington Post

Drawing attention to breaking news on Facebook will help get important information to people when it matters most. This is an early test and we will keep working with news publishers through the Facebook Journalism Project to incorporate their feedback and refine how it works.