Report: Facebook Wants to Boost Local News, but Has Caused ‘News Deserts’

Mark Zuckerberg Smiles discussing Facebook
GERARD JULIEN/Getty
CHARLIE NASH

Facebook wants to boost local news articles, but claims there isn’t enough being produced, with one-third of Americans living in areas called “news deserts,” which the Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe have contributed to.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook users desire more local news, but “there simply isn’t enough local news in vast swaths of the country.”

“One-third of Americans live in a place where Facebook can’t find enough local news being shared on its service to justify building a localized aggregator for that area,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “Facebook said it needs to be able to identify at least five news articles a day related to a city that are shared on the platform to justify building a Today In [local news system] for that city.”

“The places where this isn’t happening aren’t only in sparsely populated areas,” continued the Journal. “Even high-density states such as New Jersey have significant areas where Facebook was unable to find sufficient local-news coverage.”

Facebook refers to areas with little local news coverage as “news deserts.”

“Over the last twenty-five years, news deserts – communities with little or no local reporting – have emerged and continue to spread in the United States,” declared Facebook in a blog post, Monday. “The first step to solving a problem is measuring it. And this is where Facebook hopes to help. We have studied the geography of local news — and communities with insufficient news — extensively and are now going to start sharing the information we’ve gathered with leading academics in order to further the public understanding of this issue.”

“About one in three users in the U.S. live in places where we cannot find enough local news on Facebook to launch Today In,” the company continued. “What does that mean exactly? In the last 28 days, there has not been a single day where we’ve been able to find five or more recent news articles directly related to these towns. This does not vary much by region: 35% of users in the Midwest, Northeast, and South – and 26% in the West – live in places where we can’t find much local news on Facebook.”

Facebook announced its “Today In” local news system in 2018, allowing users to receive local alerts, and in January, the Big Tech company revealed its program to “invest USD 300 million in news programs, partnerships and content.”

The Wall Street Journal noted, however, that Facebook itself “has played a role in the decline of local news outlets,” along with other Big Tech companies like Google, and “has sucked up much of the advertising revenue that used to go to newspapers.”

As reported by Engadget, “Approximately 1,800 papers have shut down in the US since around the time Facebook came online 15 years ago, and it seems barely a week goes by without layoffs in the media industry.”

Charlie Nash is a reporter for Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter, or like his page at Facebook.

 

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