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With “fake news” figuratively and literally trending as a topic after the election, Facebook has made a key hire as the social giant looks to show that it can better police itself moving forward.
The social media giant has hired former CNN host and NBC news correspondent Campbell Brown as its new chief of news partnerships.
“This is a different role for me, but one where I will be tapping my newsroom experience to help news organizations and journalists work more closely and more effectively with Facebook,” wrote Brown in a Friday note. “I will be working directly with our partners to help them understand how Facebook can expand the reach of their journalism, and contribute value to their businesses.”
The high-profile role is one of the first tangible results following founder Mark Zuckerberg’s note taking more responsibility for the role he plays in shaping the media consumption habits of Facebook users. In December, Facebook also partnered with Snopes, ABC News, Politifact and Factcheck.org in order to flag and fact-check fake news stories as they begin to gain traction.
“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics,” Zuckerberg wrote on Nov. 12. “Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other. That said, we don’t want any hoaxes on Facebook.”
Traditional publishers have been squeezed by the changing News Feed algorithm that, at one point, favored text-based news content but has recently appeared to favor engagement for video and Facebook Live content. In August, Facebook automated its “Trending” news section and eliminated human editors to “no longer require people to write descriptions for trending topics,” it said at the time.
During the election cycle, sensational “fake news” Facebook pages cropped up and quickly built up large numbers of likes for their pages. These publishers, in some cases, used Facebook to drive traffic to their websites, where they could monetize false but clickable, content using programmatic advertising.
“Right now we are watching a massive transformation take place in the news business — both in the way people consume news and in the way reporters disseminate news,” Brown wrote Friday. “Facebook is a major part of this transformation. This change comes with enormous challenges for journalists but also with great opportunities.”
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