Facebook’s news section goes live: What is it and how does it work?

Facebook has started testing Facebook News-- a dedicated place for news, within its main mobile app. Here is how it looks and works.

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Facebook has launched a new feature called Facebook News as part of its main mobile app describing it as “a dedicated place for news”. As of now, the feature is in testing among selected users in the US, accessible via a home screen tab.

Facebook’s Vice President of Global News partnerships, Campbell Brown and Product Manager of News, Mona Sarantakos wrote in a blog post that the Facebook News feature will give people “more control over the stories they see, and the ability to explore a wider range of their news interests, directly within the Facebook app”.

News articles will continue to appear in News Feed, the way they do at the moment. Facebook says that it has talked to journalists, publishers, and people before it started to develop this product. Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg had said that they wanted to build this product in a consultative way by sharing their ideas and getting input from the industry.

“We talked to news organizations about what they’d like to see included in a news tab, how their stories should be presented and what analytics to provide,” he told Mathias Dopfner, CEO of Axel Springer.

How will Facebook News work and look?

Facebook News will have both the curated and personalised section for the consumers. While the personalisation will be based on the news a user reads, shares, and follows, “Today’s Stories” will have news articles chosen by a team of journalists to help users catch up on the news of the day.

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Facebook will have Topics, Today’s Stories, and Personalised feed. (Image: Facebook)

Facebook admits that machine learning has limits and since original reporting is more expensive to produce and better recognized by seasoned journalists, the Today’s Stories section is here to help. It says the team of journalists will have editorial independence and will select stories based on publicly available guidelines at facebook.com/news.

Much like Google News, Facebook News will also have a topic section that will carry stories for different beats like business, entertainment, health, science and tech, and sports. Facebook will give users the option to link their paid news subscription into their Facebook account. Users will have the liberty to hide articles, topics, as well as publishers they don’t want to see.

Which publishers are available on Facebook News?

News publishers who wish to participate in the Facebook News can do so by enrolling in its News Page Index and abide by its publisher guidelines, which include prohibitions against misinformation and hate speech. Facebook will also pay publishers to enroll them into the program.

Facebook didn’t provide the list of participating publishers in the blog post but the video showcasing the working of Facebook News shows stories from The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Bloomberg, Fox Business, Business Insider, and more. Techcrunch reported that spokespeople for The Post, BuzzFeed, and the LA Times have confirmed their participation. A report by Pocket-lint claims that along with BuzzFeed, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal have also enrolled for the Facebook News.

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