There have been a few signs already this year that Facebook is maybe feeling the heat. Perhaps younger users are tending towards trendier, more dynamic forms of social media. Perhaps older users are tiring of such platforms altogether and going back to sending hand-written letters. Whatever the reason, Facebook understands that it needs to make some changes to keep its users coming back.
So far this year, the company has killed its unsuccessful virtual assistant, promised to clean up Messenger's act, and committed to making the Facebook news feed more personal. We knew even more changes were coming, and in a post yesterday CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that the next update would rank local news higher.
Users apparently want the news they consume to be from more trustworthy sources (shocking, right?) and also more relevant to them and their community, hence this latest shift in direction for Facebook's content. Zuckerberg makes a link between reading local news and greater civic engagement, which shows Facebook is really just thinking about our wellbeing and how it can improve our lives. This definitely isn't a strategic commercial decision. Not at all.
These new changes will push local news items from publishers (especially those shared by friends) higher up your news feed, both in the app and on desktop. There's no need to update the app as the changes are handled server-side. This comes into effect right away in the US, with more countries likely to get the same treatment later in the year.