Facebook testing breaking news app to send out alerts, reports say

Tool allows people to sign up to alerts from companies, who will be able to give them a notification when anything interesting happens

Facebook is testing an app that will send out breaking news alerts to users, according to reports. Users will be able to sign up for specific publications and topics, known as stations and substations, that they will then receive push notifications from. The app is still in very early testing, reports Business Insider. Initially, it is just being used by a few select publications.

The breaking news service will be separate from the main Facebook app, in keeping with the company’s gradual move towards “unbundling” its services and offering them in separate forms. It is being developed as part of the Facebook for Business initiative, which is being built to help the site function as a kind of marketplace for various other companies.

To use the app, users will sign up and give their interests. For publishers themselves, they’ll push out a notification with text and a web address, so that users can click through on them to open up the corresponding website.

Business Insider, which says it has seen early versions of the production, described it as “similar to Twitter”. Twitter has been working on its own breaking news platform, internally known as “Project Lightning”, which will be built around following events rather than people.