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Facebook's (FB) Focus on Local News to Aid Market Share

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Facebook (FB - Free Report) is set to expand its Today In feature for local news and information to more than 6,000 cities and towns across the United States.

Today In can be found within More menu on the social media giant’s flagship mobile applications for iOS and Android. Notably, the service is driven by AI and does not use human curators.

Per a Nieman Lab report, 59% of local news aggregated by Facebook on Today In covers critical information, especially stories on emergencies, transportation and health. This apart, 31% of the stories cover sports and 9% obituaries. Notably, political stories do not generate substantial local interest.

Users opting for the Today In service will receive real-time local news and announcements from non-profit organizations and public services directly in their mobile newsfeed. This also includes critical alerts like road closures, crime reports and election results.

Facebook’s Local News Focus Increases Competitive Prowess

The rapid introduction of news services from tech giants like Facebook, Alphabet (GOOGL - Free Report) division Google and Apple (AAPL - Free Report) has intensified competition in the digital as well as traditional news market.

Per Reuters Digital News report 2019, overall weekly usage level of Google News has reached 15% in the United States, similar to Amazon’s (AMZN - Free Report) Washington Post.

Moreover, the overall reach of Apple News is 10%. Notably, Apple News reaches 27% of iPhone users in the United States compared with 23% for Amazon’s Washington Post.

Facebook’s local news focus is likely to boost market share amid intensifying competition. Per a Market Watch report, currently 1.6 million people have activated Today In. The service was launched in 400 cities early last year. It receives news from about 1,200 local news outlets per week and aggregates them by area for users of the feature.

Facebook’s huge daily user base of 1.59 billion offers significant room for growth. Moreover, the company, which has been primarily blamed for the decline in newspaper and print media business, has lately been taking initiatives to support journalists. This includes investment of $300 million in news partnerships over the next three years.

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