In a meeting with Australian media executives, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, former television anchor and reporter Campbell Brown, said, “Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes,” according to the newspaper The Australian. Facebook said the remarks were inaccurate and taken out of context.
The Australian said it based its story on information from five people present who requested anonymity, as the meeting was off the record.
Brown allegedly said that publishers who choose not to work with Facebook will wind up in a dying business, and that media should stop focusing on referred traffic from the service as a metric of success. This may stem from a vast drop in traffic to Facebook, off 50% in a year. However, this is accompanied by more time spent in some of its affiliated apps, like Instagram. Facebook also faced Wall Street’s scorn recently as it reported no growth in average daily user in North America and a drop in Europe—its two most valuable markets.
Facebook spent years recruiting publishers and broadcasters to push their stories and media to the social network in order to draw in readers, listeners, and viewers. This often involved media firms, large and small, having to turn on a dime to follow Facebook’s pivots in priorities.
Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook moved back to a heavy focus on its users’ posts and personal interaction, leading to a dramatic drop in traffic referred by Facebook to media sites.
Facebook told Business Insider that the quoted remarks don’t reflect what was actually discussed. The company said that “our goal at Facebook—what the team works on every day with publishers and reporters around the world—is to help journalism succeed and thrive, both on our platform and off.”