Facebook's head of news partnerships, Campbell Brown, is defending the company's decision to include sites like Breitbart News in Facebook's recently announced News tab.
"I believe that in building out a destination for news on Facebook, we should include content from ideological publishers on both the left and the right — as long as that content meets our integrity standards for misinformation," Campbell wrote in a public Facebook post on Wednesday. "All the content on Facebook News today meets those standards."
Facebook revealed plans last week for a dedicated Facebook News section on its massive social media platform. The idea is that, through a verification process, Facebook News will provide news curation that enables readers to trust the pieces they read in that tab. Brown wrote last week in a blog post introducing the new section that the company hopes to "sustain great journalism and strengthen democracy."
The News section will feature work from publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post, along with regional newspapers like the Chicago Tribune. Business Insider is also a partner in the program.
But Facebook also selected Breitbart News to be one of around 200 outlets featured in the section, which immediately provoked criticism. Breitbart was once described by its cofounder and former executive director, Steve Bannon, as "the platform for the alt-right." The site has featured racist rhetoric, pushes anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim narratives, and heavily promotes President Donald Trump.
In her post on Wednesday, Brown didn't specifically mention Breitbart. Instead, she spoke to the importance of free speech and open discourse.
"There will invariably be news organizations, ideological or otherwise, who say or write things that I find abhorrent," she said. "But I will always stand by their right to express their views. It has been a long held American ideal that we win the day with better arguments, not by silencing those we disagree with."
Brown also spoke to the company's rules governing Facebook News publisher selection, and what could happen if those rules are violated. "If a publisher violates our standards by posting misinformation or hate speech on our platform, they will be removed from Facebook News," she wrote.
Brown isn't the only Facebook executive to defend the company's decision to partner with the far-right website. On Sunday, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri defended the decision while responding to a critique by the New York Times journalist Charlie Warzel on Twitter: "Two things to consider: (1) do you really want platform as big as Facebook embracing a political ideology? And (2) not as important, and this is an honest question, why such a different reaction to Breitbart being Apple News partner?"
Facebook News is currently live in a test form for some US Facebook users. It is scheduled to launch in early 2020.