Google and Facebook get personal with news stories from where you are

Both Google and Facebook are turning to local sources to drown out fake news, and make the stories they're sharing with their readers more useful.

Google has confirmed that it's testing a new app called Bulletin, which lets anyone share public local news stories including text, photos and video. An official Bulletin website discovered last week describes it as "an app for creating hyperlocal stories about your community, for your community, right from your phone."

Google confirmed the new app in an interview with Slate. “People everywhere want to know what is going on in their own backyard at a very local level, ranging from local bookstore readings to high school sporting events to information about local street closures," said spokesperson Maggie Shiels.

Bulletin is currently available as a pilot in Nashville, Tennessee and Oakland, California. Anyone from these cities interested in helping test the app can request early access by creating a profile.

Facebook gets personal

Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced that the site will be putting more emphasis on local sources when deciding which news stories to show in your feed – so if there's a local election, for example, you'll see the results roll in from local newspapers and sites.

“Starting today, we’re going to show more stories from news sources in your local town or city,” Zuckerberg said in a post on his own Facebook account. “If you follow a local publisher or if someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in [your] news feed.”

The change is now being rolled out to Facebook users in the US, and the company plans to expand it to other countries later this year.

Zuckerberg took the opportunity to reiterate the statement he made in his 2018 new year's resolution, which was to make sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent, and suggested that taking a more localised approach to news might result in better quality news.

"Many people told me they thought that if we could turn down the temperature on the more divisive issues and instead focus on concrete local issues, then we'd all make more progress together," he said.

Via the Guardian