As yet another year comes to a close, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided to give us some insight into the company’s current as well as future plans. He also tried to address the platform’s fake news problem, and settle the technological status debate. To discuss the same, he called upon COO Sheryl Sandberg for a one-on-one meeting and live-streamed it on his official profile.
Starting off, Zuckerberg mentions that Facebook is just a small part of the social fabric and they’ve moved from what used to define them as a traditional company in the Silicon Valley. Instead of focusing merely on the platform and its growth, the company is diverting attention to people, communities and the conversations that happen on the social network. But the one question that comes up everytime we discuss the company being involved in expanding their media footprint is — Is Facebook a media or a technology establishment?
The debatable question was sort-of addressed by Zuckerberg in the livestream but the reply was still unsatisfactory and seemed fabricated. It didn’t clear things up for followers watching the livestream but instead added to the already available statement released alongside the debut of Facebook’s partnerships with fact checkers for exterminating false stories on the social network. He mentioned,
Facebook is a new kind of platform. It’s not a traditional technology company. It’s not a traditional media company. We build technology and we feel responsible for how it’s used. We don’t write the news that people read on the platform, but at the same time we know that we do a lot more than just distribute news. We’re an important part of the public discourse.
Zuckerberg’s livestream partner also chimed in and added that they have a defined responsibility for the social populace on the internet. But these statements, which are extremely important for defining Facebook as a platform, are contradictory to what the chief executives have been preaching for the last couple of months. At a convention in Italy, Zuckerberg had addressed the crowd saying that his company didn’t write the stories — which he reiterates today — on the platform. So, one can only define them as a tech company and not a media one. Also, similar views were aired by Sandberg who said that the company is a tech-focused company which builds tools instead of stories.
The company might be looking to change its stance on their status as a technology-only company as it has recently been battered for being responsible for the propagation of fake and misleading stories, which led to the unexpected presidential outcome. Since then, Zuckerberg has called the media outrage over this issues as pretty crazy and assured the community that a measly 1 percent stories are fake. He’s even detailed the rough action plan which Facebook is following to keep such stories at bay.
Thus, media is becoming a pain point for the social media behemoth to address. And it can no longer wishes to mingle in the categorization of its business as a traditional technology or media outlet. It is a mix of both, with the sole aim of connecting people around the globe.