The appointment, which is a first for Facebook, follows the fake news scandal that plagued much of last year and in particular the 2016 US election. Brown’s remit will be to help news organisations and journalists work more effectively with Facebook, which stands accused of treating publishers as “serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns” and of not taking enough interest in the credibility of the news distributed on its platform.
“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,” said Brown on her Facebook page. “That also means making sure there is ongoing feedback from publishers as Facebook develops new products and tools for news organisations.”
Brown will report to Nick Grudin, vice-president of media partnerships, and joins a company with 1.79 billion users. The social media network insists Brown will not take editorial decisions regarding content, despite concerns that Facebook helps disseminate misinformation.
“Covering the news with honesty and integrity is something that matters deeply to me, and I have always felt that journalism is more than just a job,” said Brown. “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. Facebook is a major part of this transformation. This change comes with enormous challenges for journalists but also with great opportunities.”