Facebook hires former NYT public editor to help with transparency

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Facebook has hired former New York Times public editor Liz Spayd to consult on the social media company’s efforts to be more transparent in its decision making.

According to the company, Spayd will be tasked with helping Facebook pull the curtain back on how it handles internal moves on matters like terrorism, fake new and privacy.

Spayd’s focus will be on the Hard Questions blog, which Facebook launched to “talk more openly about some complex subjects” and address “places where we at Facebook could do better.”

The company says it’s counting on Spayd to help Facebook “tell an accurate story, hold [Facebook] accountable, and bring a new degree of transparency.”


Spayd, who has also worked at the Columbia Journalism Review and The Washington Post, has been working as a consultant to Facebook for several weeks, according to Recode, which first reported the hire. She consults on the company’s operations at its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters.

The former Times editor is not the company’s first major hire of a former journalist. In January, Facebook hired Campbell Brown, a former CNN and NBC journalist, to lead its news partnership team. In the role, Brown is supposed to help connect Facebook with news outlets who rely on Facebook to help spread to their content.

Spayd’s role contrasts from Brown’s in that it’s supposed to be less public facing — Spayd won’t write Facebook posts to the public like Brown sometimes does.

The hire comes amid Facebook’s long march to adjust to its role as one of the largest media disseminators in the world.

The company had previously shrugged off its role in media, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg holding off from calling Facebook a media company until late last year. Zuckerberg also initially shrugged off Facebook’s role in disseminating information during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The company has since reversed track on these positions and worked to introduce tools that mitigate the spread of false news stories and hate speech on its platform.


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