Washington, Sep 18 (IANS) In a move to take on the micro-blogging site Twitter which is the biggest source of breaking news for journalists, Facebook has launched an innovative newsgathering tool that will help reporters scan and file stories from the ocean of information on Facebook and its photo-sharing site Instagram.

Called Signal, the free tool will help journalists track relevant trends, photos, videos, and posts from nearly 1.5 billion Facebook users and Instagram’s 300 million users for storytelling and reporting.

“We have heard from journalists that they want an easy way to make Facebook a more vital part of their newsgathering,” posted Andy Mitchell, director of media partnerships, on Facebook website.

“We are excited to introduce Signal, for Facebook and Instagram, 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,” he wrote.

With this tool, journalists interested in seeing what conversations are resonating on Facebook can monitor which topics are trending and then quickly display related content that has been shared publicly from both people and Pages for deeper context on those trends.

“Search functionality makes it easy to surface content directly related to a story or topic they are tracking,” Mitchell added.

Journalists can access lists of public figures ranked by who is being mentioned the most on Facebook, including real-time conversations across politicians, authors, actors, musicians, sports teams, players and more.

“Using location-tag and topic-related search functionality, journalists can search Instagram for public posts related to specific hashtags, associated with specific public accounts, or tagged with locations using an interactive global map,” he further posted.

Every Facebook post, every Instagram image or video, and every metric found in Signal can be easily saved into custom collections for later use in a downstream CMS for digital writers or for integration with broadcast graphics packages for broadcast teams, the Facebook post revealed.

Journalists can easily embed any Facebook and Instagram post in their coverage by simply selecting and copying the post’s embed code.

Newsrooms can integrate Signal APIs to feed curated content onto their websites and into their broadcasts, as well as produce native visualisations of curated Instagram content for events.

“This is a first step in helping journalists use Facebook and Instagram more effectively and we will gather feedback and iterate to make Signal as useful as possible for industry professionals,” Mitchell pointed out.