Four Canadian Publications Can Now Tag Breaking News on Facebook

Facebook is continuing to tinker with how their users read and interpret news on their feeds.

Recently, Facebook has been running a test that let certain publications identify and label news as “breaking.” Starting this week, Facebook is expanding that test to an additional 50 publishers, with Canadian publications Global News, CityNews, CBC, and Journal de Montreal included on the list. Early users of the feature included U.S. publications like The Verge, Vox and ABC.

These publishers will now be able to label instant articles, mobile links, web links and Facebook Live streams as breaking news. They are only allowed to use the indicator once a day though and can set how long the story will be marked as breaking for—up to six hours, as is shown below.

Source: Matt Navarra

Readers will be able to flag these tagged posts if they do not believe the news to be breaking, through the same process they would tag a post as spam or offensive.

“As a dominant news publisher on Facebook, we see consumers increasingly turn to this platform for reliable breaking news content,” said Ron Waksman, VP of news content for Global News and Corus Radio. “We look forward to taking part in the test and to contributing trustworthy, verified news and information from professional journalists at one of Canada’s most credible news organizations.”

Facebook has been messing around with their news feed over the past few years, facing more concerns over unreliable news and hidden posts. In January, Facebook announced that they were going to lower the amount of news that Facebook users saw and fill that void with more family and friend content. In total, that meant a drop from five per cent of the newsfeed being public content to four per cent.

At the same time, Facebook declared an intent to make the news that users see more credible by prioritizing trustworthy and informative content.

Other publishers on the list are spread around the world, with representation in Latin America, Europe and Australia. If the expansion proves successful, Facebook will add the capability for more publications.

The “breaking” tag has seen success since rolling out late last year. Just over a month fo testing found that there was a four per cent lift in clickthrough rates, seven per cent lift in likes, four per cent lift in comments and 11 per cent lift in shares.

The decision to add a “breaking” tag to news is one that lets users see exactly when an important event is happening, and share it or react to it accordingly. Users will also know that these publications with the tags are “vetted” by Facebook, so they can be trusted more than some other publications, at least to a degree. Still, it will come with some concerns as Facebook is ultimately the one who decides which publications “deserve” to get the tag, and thus drive more engagement.

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Centre, 67 per cent of U.S. adults get some of their news from social media.

Facebook has been in the news regarding news a lot in Canada recently. Their Digital News Innovation Challenge, in partnership with the DMZ, is looking for digital media startups to mentor and help change the face of news in Canada. Applications for that close on March 9.