Facebook’s role in spreading news, especially fake news, has been in the spotlight since last year’s presidential election. Now it’s promoting Alex Hardiman to lead its news efforts on the product side.
Hardiman worked at The New York Times, most recently as vice president of news products, until joining Facebook last year. (I interviewed her a few years ago about her work at The Times.)
She wrote on Facebook that her new role will involve working with news organizations to monetize and develop new formats, while also partnering “with teams in Facebook to continue curbing the spread of false news.”
Recode previously reported that Facebook was looking to hire a head of news products to combat fake news. The fact that a product person will be playing a key role in this fight seems reflective of the approach that the company wants to take on these issues — an approach that emphasizes technology over editorial involvement (though again, Hardiman said she’ll be working on other teams, including the company’s new journalism project).
Even beyond fake news, Hardiman seems to have a lot of work to do, with news publishers increasingly resistant to Facebook’s Instant Articles, largely due to the lack of monetization options.
Still, she sounds charged up about the challenge. Hardiman wrote:
Taking this role is a deeply personal decision for me. My great-grandmother was a radio and television pioneer in the midwest and spent her life providing Americans with access to high quality news. My grandfather spent his career as a broadcast journalist tackling racial discrimination and social injustice. I grew up in News, spending 10 years at The New York Times transforming the company into a mobile-first organization with products like The Times’s iPhone news app … The weight and opportunity of this challenge is both humbling and thrilling, and I can’t wait to get started.
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