By Anthea Watson Strong, Local News Product Manager
Earlier this year we started testing a dedicated section on Facebook that connects people to news and information about their community, called Today In. We have seen a positive response from people and are expanding this test into 25 more US cities over the next few weeks:
Anderson, SC; Bismarck, ND; Bloomington, IL; Boise, ID; Charleston, WV; Chattanooga, TN; Columbia, SC; Decatur, IL; Franklin, TN; Evansville, IN; Greensboro, NC; Greenville, SC; Huntsville, AL; Poughkeepsie, NY; Lafayette, LA; Lakeland, FL; Macon, GA; Myrtle Beach, SC; Santa Rosa, CA; Sarasota, FL; Saint Joseph, MO; San Angelo, TX; Shreveport, LA; Tyler, TX; York, PA
If you live in one of these cities, you can find this new section in the Facebook app by tapping the menu (☰) and then tapping on “Today In.”
You can also easily see highlights of the most popular updates from Today In by opting-in to receive daily updates in News Feed. If you want to receive these updates regularly, visit the Today In section to turn on these updates or tap the “Turn on” button if you see a notice about daily updates in your News Feed. You also have the option to turn off these updates by visiting the Today In section, tapping the three dots (…) next to the city name and sliding the blue toggle to turn off daily updates.
TODAY IN FEATURES
- Weather: Find the current weather listed for your city. Tap the weather feature to see your local weather forecast.
- Latest Updates: See what’s happening with updates from organizations relevant to your community and see information like volunteer opportunities, local crime and safety, and other community information. You’ll see recent posts from Pages in your area that you can easily react to, comment on and share with your neighbors and friends.
- In The News: Stay informed on what’s happening in your city with recent news stories from your local publishers who have Pages on Facebook. You’ll find a list of up to 10 headlines from your city and can tap on any headline to read the article.
- Events: Discover upcoming events in your area. You can tap on any event to learn more, express interest in attending, RSVP for the event, or share with friends. Discover more events nearby by tapping “See All.”
- Group Discussions: Engage in conversations happening in public Groups or Groups you’ve joined within your local community. You can join the conversation by liking posts from public Groups or commenting on posts from Groups you have joined.
- Get Closer to Your Community: Discover different local Groups to become more involved in your community and connect with others over shared interests. Scroll through this section to discover new local groups and tap “Join Group.”
We plan to experiment with new types of content by adding new features to show on Today In, including breaking news, local alerts and school information.
Testing Local Alerts in Select Cities
In addition to expanding the availability of Today In, we’re starting a small test with some first responder Pages to help them communicate local alerts on Facebook. Finding local urgent information on Facebook is something people tell us they want and this test will experiment communicating a post as a local alert. The local alert indicator will appear in both News Feed and Today In.
This test is not meant to replace emergency alert systems; rather, it is an additional way to provide information about a post. Pages participating in the test will apply the local alert indicator to posts at their discretion and will be limited to label one post per day, setting the time for how long the post is marked as a local alert (up to 6 hours). This indicator will not affect the ranking of the post in News Feed.
This is a small test starting in a select number of cities where Today In is available and may expand as we continue to gain feedback.
What This Means for Publishers
Today In is additional to the local news found in News Feed and on publisher Pages. Our goal is to show more information that connects people and publishers to their local communities as part of our commitment to show high quality news that’s broadly trusted, informative and relevant. Today In and our recent announcement to prioritize local news in News Feed are some of our efforts and we look forward to improving and expanding these efforts in the future.