Facebook Exec Details 'Path Toward More Quality News' Without 'Becoming a News Organization'
WASHINGTON – Campbell Brown, head of global news partnerships at Facebook, said the original news content that Facebook is starting to roll out does not mean the company is becoming a news organization.
“We’re not becoming a news organization but we have a lot of news on the platform and we are a huge part of the news ecosystem, and it means we have a responsibility to the news ecosystem and we are responsible for the news that is on our platform. So with that in mind, we have a lot of work we are going to have to do over the course of this year that is really foundational work around defining what is and isn’t a news organization – it’s akin to what Google has done with Google News,” Brown said during a discussion organized by Axios about the future of media on Monday evening.
“We haven’t done that on Facebook yet and those are steps that we need to take, and I think having people with a background in media and with a background in journalism in the room to be part of these conversations is really essential. This is part of the push we’ve made this year toward more quality and a much stronger emphasis on quality around news on Facebook. We, at the start of the year, with ranking, turned down the dial on clickbait and sensationalism in a big way and a lot of news publishers were hurt by that,” she added. “If you were relying on clickbait, you’ve seen your traffic plummet because of these changes.”
Brown, a former CNN anchor, said Facebook has been giving a “boost” on its platform to national and local news outlets that it has defined as “broadly trusted” among the public.
“So the ratio of the kind of news you would see in the newsfeed changes, there would be less competition but, overall, more quality. This is a work in progress. None of this methodology is perfect,” Brown said. “Any time you make a change to ranking with an algorithm like the one that operates Facebook, there are going to be unintended consequences. So there’s a lot to work out, but I think this path toward more quality news and the emphasis on quality is the right one.”
Brown explained that Facebook is going to pay news outlets to produce about 20 original shows for the site. The first lineup includes Anderson Cooper of CNN, Jorge Ramos from Univision and Shepard Smith from Fox News as hosts.
“Part of the idea behind this is to just create a destination for news in newsfeed,” she said. “In a breaking news moment, it can be hard to find breaking news on Facebook. Part of our deal with ABC, who is also part of our original slate, is they will provide a live feed during breaking news moments.”