Facebook will now let some publishers add a "breaking" tag to news stories, making it easier for readers to identify news while scrolling through their feed.
The new label is part of a test, and publishers will have the option to leave the tag on a story for as little as 15 minutes or as long as six hours. Publishers can use the tag once in a 24-hour period.
Right now, adding the tag to a post does not boost that post higher in users' feeds, though it could in the future. "As part of this test, we'll be evaluating if breaking news stories should be incorporated into ranking," a company spokesperson confirmed to Recode.
Facebook has been considering a breaking news tag for a while, as Recode previously reported.
The addition of a "breaking" news label might be helpful for publishers looking for a way to stand out in what has become an incredibly crowded feed, so it's possible that adding the tag could also drive more traffic.
Facebook periodically shows an interest in delivering timely news and other content, like live video broadcasts, to its readers - an area that has traditionally been Twitter's specialty.
But generally Facebook is less interested in telling you what just happened and more interested in showing you something it thinks you will like, so publishers often emphasize less time-sensitive stuff when they upload content to Facebook.
Facebook has spent much of 2017 focusing on news and news publishers. The company is still working to identify and suppress so-called "fake news" from user feeds, which may have played a role in influencing last year's U.S. presidential election. It also built a subscription tool for publishers that usually keeps stories behind a paywall, an incentive for those publishers to continue sharing their work to Facebook.
Facebook is not sharing the full group of publishers in the "breaking" news test, though ABC is included, as you can see from the screenshot above. Vox and The Verge, which are owned by Vox Media, Recode's parent company, are also part of the test, according to a company spokesperson. Assuming that the test works -- and that Facebook and publishers like it -- it will be pushed out to more people.
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