Agence France-Presse
Zenith Bank BetaLife
Zenith Bank BetaLife
Zenith Bank BetaLife
Zenith Bank BetaLife

Facebook launched a news service that will provide users with curated national and local stories, the company on Friday said.

Facebook News is being tested with a subset of mobile app users in the US starting on Friday, with a wider roll-out planned for early 2020.

The move is the social media giant’s latest change to its approach to journalism, after being criticised in the past for the way it has dealt with disinformation on its platform.

A small team of journalists will choose the headlines that appear in “Today’s Stories” section, while an algorithm will identify stories based on users’ interests, Facebook said.

“When we started talking to news organisations about building Facebook News earlier this year, they emphasised that original reporting is more expensive to produce and better recognised by seasoned journalists than by algorithms,” Facebook said in announcing the feature.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook will pay licensing fees to many of its media partners, which include Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Fox News.

The decision may be in response to complaints that tech giants have siphoned off advertising revenue from news outlets while paying nothing for articles posted on their platforms.

Facebook has not disclosed who is getting paid and how much.

Facebook News plans to display outlets’ headlines, which take users who click on them to the publisher’s site.

The company said it aims to highlight local stories from some of the largest US cities as well as introducing news from smaller towns in the coming months.

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