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Facebook appoints former CNN anchor to media role

Facebook has appointed former NBC and CNN anchor Campbell Brown to oversee its sometimes-strained relationship with the news industry, as the platform faces criticism for its role in the US presidential election.

Campbell Brown, who hosted her own show on CNN until 2010, wrote in a post on Facebook that she will join its news partnerships team this month, charged with helping journalists work more effectively with the social network.

Facebook is a “major part” of the “massive” transformation in how people consume news and how reporters distribute it, Ms Brown wrote.

“This change comes with enormous challenges for journalists but also with great opportunities. Being given the chance to work on these complex issues with an industry full of people I care so much about is thrilling for me,” she said.

Facebook has had a tense relationship with news publishers who rely on it for its massive reach, but who are cautious about handing control over their relationships with customers to the site.

The social network has insisted it is a technology company, rather than a media company with a responsibility to exercise editorial judgment, despite increasing pressure for it to monitor what is spread on the site.

Facebook was criticised for allowing fake news stories such as the claim the Pope endorsed Donald Trump to become some of the most read stories of the US election. After Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook chief executive, initially shot down allegations that it could have influenced the election, Facebook changed tack and quickly rolled out tests of how they could flag fake news with the help of independent fact checkers.

The fake news scandal was not the first time Facebook’s editorial role has been questioned. Last year, the site disbanded its Trending Topics team, charged with selecting headlines to feature in a sidebar, after it was accused of deliberately playing down conservative topics. The company denied it was reluctant to promote rightwing stories, arguing instead that the team was tidying up the phrasing of headlines and eliminating topics that trended every day.

Ms Campbell did not address the criticism levied at Facebook, but instead stressed the respect she had for journalists and how she wanted to gather feedback for publishers as Facebook develops new products for news organisations.

“I grew up in journalism. It has been the most defining part of my professional life. Throughout my career my mentors were all great journalists. Covering the news with honesty and integrity is something that matters deeply to me,” she said.

Via FT