In an effort to take the rise of false news stories, Facebook has decided to hire Campbell Brown to head its newly created news division. The decision to hire Mrs. Brown, who had previously worked for NBS news and is currently a host on CNN, was announced on Friday.
The move is part of a series of corrective actions stemming from the unfettered rise of false and misleading stories on the social network. This came to a head following last year’s election as many pundits called out Facebook for not taking a more active role in debunking, or at a minimum, minimizing the impact of such stories.
While the company can do little to stop the posting of false stories on its social network, many have pointed out that it can make sure such stories are not promoted. In December, Facebook announced it would enact a system to gauge the authenticity of news stories posted on the site.
Regardless of the election, false and misleading stories have been a sore spot for some time. During the Christmas holiday, a seemingly credible story about a bomb attack in Bangkok, Thailand triggered Facebook’s Safety Check algorithm. The story was later proven to be baseless and the company is considering ways to improve Safety Check.
What does Campbell Brown mean for Facebook?
While The New York Times has reported that Facebook does have several professional journalists on its payroll, the hiring of Mrs. Brown marks the first time that the company has set up a news division. However, company representatives, note that Mrs. Brown was not brought on to the company to act and an editor, but rather to help Facebook cooperate with new organizations. It is believed that this will help the company to balance its increasingly vital role as a news source, with its original purpose as a social media network.
Mrs. Brown has gained notoriety for her reporting on school choice, particularly her support for charter schools and her battles with teacher unions over her positions. While Mrs. Brown is a former Republican strategist, she has been openly critical of President-elect Donald Trump.
Ultimately the decision to hire Mrs. Brown is an attempt to reshape Facebook’s role as a trusted news source for is more than 1.8 billion users. This includes looking at paid placement of false or misleading stories which have increased in frequency and in popularity in recent years.