Apr 24, 2015 · 1 minute

Facebook is experimenting with a new feature that makes it easier for its users to learn about birthdays, read local news, and find other items of importance.

Mashable reports that the feature will be coming to mobile users in the United States first before it debuts worldwide. Facebook confirmed the changes to Mashable and said the feature is meant to bring "additional, relevant content about everything that might be helpful to know on a particular day" to its app.

The feature could be part of Facebook's efforts to model its service after local newspapers -- something chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the site was supposed to remind people of when it updated its News Feed in March 2013. And, as silly as it seemed then, the metaphor was actually pretty compelling.

This could make the new feature an attempt to convince local news publishers to join their national or international counterparts in hosting their content right on Facebook. If people are finding your site via the new notifications tab, and Facebook offers a sweetheart revenue-sharing deal, why not partner with it?

It might also be another way for Facebook to convince its users to interact with its service. Displaying a list of local restaurants, warning users of their mothers' birthdays, and providing links to local news sources every time a status update is "liked" seems like a decent way to increase the time spent in Facebook's app.

Twitter introduced a similar feature last night. It's called Highlights, and it collects the most important content -- links, news, etc. -- from Twitter's service then sends a push notification to users, ostensibly so they'll check Twitter more. Both companies want to better use notifications to keep their users engaged.

Rather, they want to increase users' dependence on their products. Every buzz in the pocket, every chirp from the table making people think they can just check the notification. Then, the next thing they know, they wake up in the middle of the desert because they had a prolonged social networking binge.

It might not work exactly like that. But it'll be similar, with every notification dragging people into these services and trying to make sure they never leave.

[Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]