Facebook's Campbell Brown, head of Facebook's news media relations team, made some comments in a recent chat with The Australian that essentially amount to telling traditional news media providers that their business models are unsustainable in the ever-changing news landscape, but Facebook is offering them a chance to thrive. "We will help you revitalize journalism…", she was quoted as saying. She also said that Facebook no longer cares about how many viewers it's referring to outside news sources, making no secret of the fact that Facebook wants to up its news clout by bringing publishers on board with its own model and having them put their content on Facebook to be used in such a manner.
Some of the comments in the story from The Australian were later denied by Brown, but it should be noted that there were reportedly five staff members from The Australian in the room during the talk who all said that she said the things the story says she did. The authenticity of that assertion is ultimately dependent upon the trustworthiness of The Australian, but assuming the comments are true, the gist here is that Facebook is done playing nice with traditional news media in order to gain access to their content. Brown allegedly said outright that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg "doesn't care about publishers", and the numbers on that speak for themselves, according to data gathered by Nieman Journalism Lab. Referrals to news outlet Slate, for example, reportedly fell from around 20 million down to less than 4 million within less than two years' time thanks to new policies that Facebook is putting in place regarding outbound content referrals and promotions.
Facebook has become a dominant force in online media, and is one of the primary ways most people get their news. Compared to traditional outlets, it holds the advantages of having a wider purview of content, having multiple sources to fact-check and corroborate stories, and of course, being a social platform; people will share the news they want to share. These exact perks are part of what contributed to the company's mounting problem with "fake news", which arguably came to a head during the 2016 United States presidential election. While not stated outright, it's at least somewhat likely that those struggles and all the problems caused by them played no small part in the formation of Facebook's new attitude and policies regarding more traditional outside news sources.