Meta, formerly known as Facebook, continues to experience significant shifts in its approach to news promotion on its platforms. As part of this transition, Campbell Brown, the Head of News Partnerships, is now leaving the company. Axios reports that Brown, who was hired in 2017 to facilitate news organizations’ content distribution on Facebook, will remain affiliated with Meta as a consultant according to internal documents seen by Axios.
During her tenure, Brown played a pivotal role in Meta’s efforts to establish itself as a major news aggregator. Under her leadership, the company introduced a News tab, pursued significant licensing deals with renowned news publishers, and even provided grants through the Facebook Journalism Project to support struggling local news outlets.
However, as governments started to scrutinize Meta’s practices, the company abruptly pivoted its strategy in response. Brown informed employees that the focus would shift towards building a more robust Creator economy, moving away from news efforts. This decision coincided with the implementation of broad bans on news sharing, particularly in countries where governments were demanding payment for hosting news organizations’ content. Most recently, this was seen in Canada.
Brown faced challenges throughout her role at Meta, grappling with the company’s changing objectives and growing regulatory attention. In a 2018 Code Conference interview, she emphasized that it was not her responsibility to personally recruit news organizations to publish their content on Facebook. Furthermore, she expressed that those who did not feel the platform was suitable for their content should not participate.
The decision to reduce the prominence of news content on Facebook was met with mixed reactions. Critics argue that it signifies a retreat from Meta’s role as a news distributor, potentially impacting the accessibility and reach of news organizations’ content. Conversely, supporters of the move view it as an opportunity for the company to prioritize and foster a thriving community of content creators.
As Meta reinforces its commitment to the Creator economy, it signals a strategic shift towards empowering individuals to produce and share original content. This move aligns with the evolving digital landscape, where content creation and consumption are driven by independent creators across various platforms. By focusing on the Creator economy, Meta aims to nurture a vibrant ecosystem that fosters innovation, creativity, and engagement.
The departure of Campbell Brown from her role as Head of News Partnerships at Meta underscores the company’s evolving relationship with news content. While Meta’s news promotion initiatives have faced regulatory scrutiny and undergone significant changes, it remains committed to a balanced approach that supports both creators and news organizations. As the social media landscape continues to evolve, Meta will need to carefully navigate the demands of governments, the expectations of its user base, and the evolving needs of news organizations to shape its future news strategy.
Meta’s decision to part ways with Campbell Brown as it shifts its news strategy highlights the continuous evolution and challenges within the digital media landscape. While the move may disappoint some who relied on Facebook as a news aggregator, Meta is now doubling down on its commitment to fostering a thriving Creator economy. As Meta continues to redefine its approach to news promotion, the future of news distribution on its platforms remains uncertain.