For a considerable amount of time now, social networking site Facebook has programmed its algorithms to show updates in an order that presents users with the content it thinks they want to see first, meaning that some news items and time sensitive posts can be viewed hours, or even days out of sync.
For example, if a football club is posting updates about a match being played, a user may well see the full time result long before a post about a goal towards the start of the game. However, Facebook is now starting to address this, and has been working on a breaking news feature since November last year to help mark time sensitive content such as news articles as pieces designed to be seen at that moment.
As of this week, Facebook has attributed more than 50 news outlets from around the world with access to this feature. This includes news suppliers in North America, Australia, Europe and Latin America. This is in addition to the small group of publishers that had already been given access to it as part of the company’s initial tests.
Should this prove to be a hit with this latest set of publishers, Facebook may consider making it an option for even more publishers in the future.
The feature sees the story being published as normal, but with the addition of a red label that says the word “breaking” as well as the time (e.g. “2 mins” if it was shared 2 minutes ago) next to the source. It will be usable for Facebook Live videos and Instant Articles.
Publishers who have access to the feature are able to make use of it once a day, setting a limit for how long they want the content to appear as breaking news for. This can be for a limit of up to six hours. The tag does not have an impact on its ranking within the news feed, although it is more likely to appear while the tag is active, and will appear less frequently when the content is no longer breaking.
Users are able to flag the content to the social platform if they do not think it is worthy of a breaking news tag and are able to provide feedback to Facebook about ways it can improve the feature.
Furthermore, publishers will be provided with statistics about how well these breaking news stories are performing within the news feed. The company has said that the number of likes, clicks, shares and comments have all been reported as being up on posts that have included the breaking news tag.