Campbell Brown, Who Led Facebook News, Leaves Meta

When Facebook was being battered in 2017 for distributing false and misleading news, the social network turned to Campbell Brown, a veteran journalist, to smooth over its relationships with the media.

Six years later, Ms. Brown is departing the company, now known as Meta, as top executives have become less concerned about what the news media thinks about it.

Ms. Brown, 54, a former TV anchor and education advocate who for years was Meta’s most prominent representative to the media industry, said in an internal announcement on Tuesday that she would step down this year to pursue other opportunities. She will remain an adviser to the company, and her team will be folded into other teams focused on media and sports partnerships development.

A spokesman for Meta declined to comment. Axios earlier reported on Ms. Brown’s departure.

Her exit will leave Meta — which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — without one of its highest-profile representatives to news, sports and entertainment at a critical time. The opening acts of the 2024 U.S. presidential election are underway, and Meta’s role as a purveyor of voter information is sure to receive scrutiny.

In hiring Ms. Brown, Facebook asked her to create partnership programs with news organizations that used the platform. A former prime-time anchor on CNN, Ms. Brown built a rapport with news executives who saw Facebook both as a rival for digital advertising dollars and as an important — but fickle — source of traffic for their websites and apps.

When she joined Facebook, the company had already begun courting the news industry with products to encourage publications to post their content on its platforms and weed out misinformation. Early efforts included Instant Articles, a program that allowed people to consume stories in Facebook’s app, and a third-party fact-checking program.

Ms. Brown’s hiring seemed to indicate that Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was putting a premium on high-quality news and information. She led the development and launch of Facebook News, a tab focused on news and lifestyle coverage, and Bulletin, a newsletter platform for marquee writers including the memoirist Mitch Albom, the magazine writer and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell and the Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.

But as Facebook began de-emphasizing news, Ms. Brown’s role shifted. Her remit expanded to include partnerships in sports media and entertainment, while the products she launched were left to languish. Last year, Facebook said it was shutting down Bulletin, and it stopped paying publishers for content that appeared in its news tab.

Publishers have openly complained that Facebook is no longer sending them the traffic it once did. Meta executives have acknowledged that they have moved away from placing news links in the main Facebook feed in favor of personal posts and interactions between friends, family and pages that people follow on the app.