Facebook explained in a statement that it identifies local news sources as outlets who get almost all of their traffic from "readers in a tight geographic area", which means the news feed will not prioritize local stories published by national or global outlets.
"If a story is from a publisher in your area, and you either follow the publisher's Page or your friend shares a story from that outlet, it might show up higher in News Feed", the release said.
We identify local publishers as those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area. According to the Facebook CEO, prioritizing local news will help promote civic engagement and create constructive dialogue on issues less divisive than those usually discussed in national or global media. But the company, which also competes with news outlets for ad dollars, has also faced criticism that it isn't doing enough to combat misinformation from going viral.
But the comment underscores the hard situation Facebook finds itself in, as its social network has come under fire for spreading misinformation and propaganda, as well as for incentivizing consumers to spend too much time on its site.
The news feed tweak is the latest update announced by Facebook as it aims to prioritize "trustworthy" sources and promote more content from friends and family. It has 1.4 billion daily active users, up 14 percent year-over-year, and 2.13 billion monthly active users, also up 14 percent year-over-year.
"Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities and affect our lives", Zuckerberg added. Last week we made an update to show more news from sources that are broadly trusted across our community.
"It's an important part of making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is valuable", Zuckerberg wrote.
While the changes will now be limited to United States, Facebook plans to introduce them globally soon.
In 2017, about two-thirds of Americans got at least some of their news on social media, according to the Pew Research Center.
Mobile ad revenue accounted for 89 percent of the total ad sales, up from 84 percent a year earlier.
Facebook said about 1.40 billion people were using its service daily as of December 31, up 14 percent from a year earlier, compared with analysts' estimate of 1.41 billion, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.
Full-year profits rose 56% to $15.9bn and revenues climbed 47% to $40.7bn while fourth quarter revenues and underlying earnings beat analysts' expectations.