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Facebook expands tool to connect users to local news

Facebook has started expanding its "Today In" section for local news and community information to make it easier for people to find news and information from their local towns and cities.

"It is now available in over 400 cities in the US, and we have launched our first international test in Australia," Anthea Watson Strong, Product Manager for Local News and Community Information at Facebook said in a statement on Wednesday.

Facebook said it wants to expand the "Today In" section more broadly soon.

"In addition, we have started testing Today In in communities located in news deserts, places that have low supply of local news and community information, by supplementing with relevant content from surrounding areas," Strong said. 

Today In aggregates local news and community information in a separate section within the Facebook app. 

People who live in a city where Today In is currently available can visit this section directly, and they can choose to turn on local updates to start seeing a collection of local news more regularly in their News Feed.

Facebook started testing Today In earlier this year after doing a research in which it found that over 50 per cent of people said they wanted to see more local news and community information on Facebook -- more than any other type of content they were asked about. 

The research showed that people wanted both what might be traditionally understood as local news -- breaking news or information about past events like city council meetings, crime reports and weather updates -- as well as community information that could help them make plans, like bus schedules, road closures and restaurant openings.

"In addition to expanding the availability of Today In, we're running a test with over 100 local government and first responder Pages to help them communicate time-sensitive and need-to-know information to people on Facebook," Strong said. 

"The local alert label appears in News Feed and Today In, and we are also testing notifications, which participating Pages can target to people who live in the affected areas," Strong added.

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