Facebook employed Campbell Brown as its head of reports partnerships on January sixth. At the time, Brown wrote that she would “help news organizations and journalists work more closely and more effectively with Facebook.” In a publish that has since been deleted, she wrote: “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.”
What a distinction a month could make. On level at Code Media on Monday night, Brown’s message to publishers was once a long way much less cheery. “My job is not to go recruit people from news organizations to put their stuff on Facebook,” she mentioned.
Brown was once requested about whether or not she was once involved that Brazil’s greatest newspaper, Folha de Sao Paolo, had elected to forestall publishing to its 6 million Facebook fans. She was once no longer. “This didn’t come as a big surprise to me quite honestly,” she mentioned. Folha hadn’t been publishing ceaselessly on Facebook for some time, she mentioned. And in spite of everything, it wasn’t her task to convince them.
”My task is to be certain that there may be high quality information on Facebook and that publishers who need to be on Facebook … have a industry type that works,” she mentioned. “If anyone feels this isn’t the right platform for them, they should not be on Facebook.”
Brown struck a extra confrontational tone than Facebook usually does in public. And possibly for this reason, there was once one thing refreshing about it. After years of main keen publishers from one product to some other — from the false promise of Facebook Live to the vulnerable monetization of Instant Articles — Facebook was once in any case in a position to admit that the way forward for media was once any individual’s wager.
”I don’t assume any people is aware of what the way forward for journalism seems like,” Brown mentioned. “We’re going to have to experiment.” Brown mentioned she sought after Facebook to keep in touch a lot more obviously to publishers: “We have to be way more transparent and candid with publishers going in that this may not work out,” she mentioned. Her message to them was once this: “Jump in with us if you’re ready for a big experiment that might not work.”
On one hand, Facebook has all the time been an experiment that may no longer paintings for publishers. But so long as web-based publications rely on show promoting earnings, Facebook’s target audience of two billion-plus other folks was once just too giant for them to forget about. Surely at that scale some writer would get wealthy? And but no writer turns out to have constructed a big logo sustained essentially by way of Facebook-generated promoting earnings.
Brown’s take-it-or-leave-it-message would possibly land harshly on some publishers’ ears. But it additionally resets the phrases of dialogue to one thing extra grounded in truth. It struck me as a welcome transfer, and a canny one. Lowered expectancies are more uncomplicated to exceed.