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Madison Vanderberg
January 30, 2018 12:05 pm

Ever since the 2016 election and the public’s cries that Facebook failed to curb the spread of misinformation via fake news and hoax articles, Facebook has been doubling down on what appears in the News Feed. The latest change to your feed is prioritizing local news.

“Starting today, we’re going to show more stories from news sources in your local town or city. If you follow a local publisher or if someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in News Feed,” Mark Zuckerberg explained in a Facebook post on Monday, January 30th, 2018.

Zuckerberg said that he traveled the country talking to individuals, and the one thing he heard the most was the desire to “turn down the temperature on the more divisive issues and instead focus on concrete local issues.” It rings true. How often do you or someone you know lament that logging into Facebook is just an avalanche of depressing national news?

Besides making your News Feed less frustrating, Zuckerberg thinks this latest change will make it easier for people to get involved if they are more aware of local politics.

"People consistently tell us 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," the Facebook founder added.

Here is Zuckerberg’s statement in full:

This News Feed change is just the recent in a string of algorithm manipulations. First the social media giant announced that it would show less news overall and more statuses from friends and family. Then on January 19th, 2018, Zuckerberg declared that it would prioritize news from “high quality” and “trustworthy” sources. Facebook says it will decide which sources are high quality by sending surveys out to users asking us to rate and review outlets and collectively decide which news sources are “trusted by the community.”

The local news agenda is the third item in Zuckerberg’s 2018 push to counter the viral spread of misinformation. Let’s hope it sticks.

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