For many journalists, Twitter remains the go-to source for following along with breaking news and major events in the world in real time. If there's a major story, you can usually count on tweets being embedded inside the text. But Facebook desperately wants some of that spotlight, and today the company is rolling out a new product that aims to give Instagram and Facebook itself more of a presence in news articles you read every day. It's called Signal, and Facebook describes it as "a free discovery and curation tool for journalists who want to source, gather, and embed newsworthy content from Facebook and Instagram, across news, culture, entertainment, sports, and more — all in one place."
Signal starts by showing news gatherers what's trending across the social network, and allows them to dig into public posts (in "unranked, chronological order," Facebook notes). There's search functionality built in, and a separate "Leaderboards" section breaks down which people are being discussed most frequently at any given moment. This spans across actors, politicians, authors, musicians, sports stars, and more.
Facebook's new tool is also designed to make surfacing relevant Instagram photos and videos far easier. Journalists can search by topic (hashtag) or pull up content geotagged around a specific location where news is breaking. All of this content can be packaged into "collections" for later reference — and Facebook also emphasizes that it's very simple to embed anything that Signal turns up. "This is a first step in helping journalists use Facebook and Instagram more effectively and we’ll gather feedback and iterate to make Signal as useful as possible for industry professionals," the company wrote in a blog post. Signal's launch comes a week after Facebook expanded its live streaming feature to include all verified journalists, a move that puts it in competition with Periscope, Meerkat, and YouTube.
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