A top Facebook executive has told news publishers that Mark Zuckerburg, chief executive of the social media giant, “doesn’t care about publishers”.
The comments from Campbell Brown, Facebook’s global head of news partnerships, were said to have been made during a four-hour meeting with media executives in Sydney, Australia, last week.
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Brown, a former US TV news anchor who was hired by Facebook in January, has said in a statement that the quotes are “simply not accurate”.
She said they do not reflect the discussion held in the meeting, which is understood to have been about new initiatives for news publishers.
She is reported in The Australian as having said: “Mark [Zuckerberg] doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes.”
She is said to have added: “We will help you revitalise journalism . . . in a few years the reverse looks like I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a hospice.”
The report claimed she told media bosses: “We are not interested in talking to you about your traffic and referrals any more. That is the old world and there is no going back — Mark wouldn’t agree to this.”
It is believed Facebook may have a recording of the meeting, but this has not yet been made public.
In a statement, Brown said: “These quotes are simply not accurate and don’t reflect the discussion we had in the meeting.
“We know there’s much more to do, but 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.
“That means a new focus on building sustainable business models, and that’s what the discussion was about.”
Zuckerburg, also the founder of Facebook, reprioritised Facebook’s News Feed earlier this year to focus on “meaningful social interactions“. The algorithm change has resulted in users seeing less content from news brands and more from friends, family and groups.
Facebook, along with Google, takes the lion’s share of digital advertising money in the UK, for which it competes with news publishers. The revenue income for both companies was up significantly last year.
Facebook has so far ignored claims that it is a publisher, and should be regulated as such, insisting instead that it is simply a platform for others’ content.
Press Gazette has called on Facebook and Google – together known as the Duopoly – to stop destroying journalism and pay more back to news publishers, on whose content they rely.
Picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo