At the ONA19 conference in New Orleans, Facebook shared the tools we’re building for local newsrooms and first responders to communicate breaking news and urgent information to people in their communities. During one panel on “Coordinating, Verifying and Contextualizing Breaking News Coverage,” Jimmy O’Keefe, Facebook’s product marketing manager for Today In, walked through three tools we’ve built to connect people on Facebook with urgent local news — Today In, the local breaking news indicator, and local alerts.

“If there’s a breaking news situation in a community, we want people to be able to find news and information they trust,” O’Keefe said. “It’s really important that we help elevate trusted sources of information and help those voices cut through the noise, because we know if we amplify those voices, we can help people get critical information in potential life-threatening situations.”

Below, learn more about each of the three tools, and how your newsroom and local authorities can use them to help people in your community.

Today In

Facebook Today In
What is it?
Today In is a new place on Facebook where people can find local news and community information, like a local-specific News Feed.

Who uses it? Today In is now available in more than 6,000 cities and towns across the U.S., and ten in Australia. Check here to see if Today In is available in your city or town.

How do I get my content in Today In? As long as your news Page is registered in the news Page index, and you’re posting your stories to Facebook, you’re eligible to be featured on Today In. We’re also working to expand Today In to bigger cities.

Where will I see it on Facebook? If you live in one of the cities where Today In is available, you can find the Today In section in the Facebook app by tapping the menu (☰) and then tapping on “Today In.” You’ll have the option to change your city. You can also opt in to receive regular updates from Today In, including collections of local news in your News Feed. If you want to receive those updates, visit the Today In section to opt in, or tap the “Turn on” button if you see a notice about local updates in your News Feed.

Read more here: Everything Publishers Need to Know About ‘Today In’

Local Breaking News Indicator

Facebook breaking news indicator

What is it? The local breaking news indicator is a red indicator that appears next to important and developing news stories in News Feed. It allows publishers to quickly communicate breaking news to people in their communities, while helping people identify important breaking news stories on Facebook.

Who uses it? More than 150 local news publishers across the U.S. are testing the local breaking news indicator in closed beta. Next year, we plan to make it available nationally to publishers.

Where I will see it on Facebook? Readers can see the local breaking news indicator in their News Feed, notifications, and on Today In.

What kind of stories will I see with it? The local breaking news indicator has been used for stories about crime, tragedies, politics, inclement weather, and hard-hitting business, finance, and investigative reporting.

Read more here: About the Local Breaking News Indicator

Local Alerts

Facebook local alertsWhat is it? Local Alerts is a tool that helps local governments and first responders keep people in their communities safe and in-the-know. When authorities mark their Facebook posts as Local Alerts, we greatly amplify their reach so that people living in an affected community are much more likely to see them.

Who uses it? More than 350 local governments and first responders have tested Local Alerts in closed beta. By the end of the year, Local Alerts will be expanded and made available to local governments and first responders across the U.S.

Where will I see it on Facebook? People on Facebook who live in the affected area and follow the Page of the first responder who sent the alert will get a Facebook notification. People may also see the local alert indicator next to the post in their News Feed, as well as on Today In.

What kinds of crises or events? Local Alerts has been used in a wide variety of emergencies such as flash flood warnings, mandatory evacuations, missing people reports, water main breaks, active shooters, road closures, winter storms, extreme temperature warnings, bomb threats, and more urgent situations.

Read more here: Expanding Facebook Local Alerts Within the U.S.