On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg invited his 82 million followers to see his one-on-one meeting with Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg via a live stream. During the short discussion, he tried to define what the social networking site is exactly.
Facebook CEO makes it more complex
Perhaps after being quizzed on Facebook’s expanding media works, the CEO felt it necessary to put the debate to rest. However, his explanation did not help settle the discussion about whether Facebook is a technology or a media company.
On the live stream, Zuckerberg said, “Facebook is a new kind of platform. It’s not a traditional technology company. It’s not a traditional media company.”
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Further, he said they build technology and feel responsible for how it is used. Trying to clear it up further, he said that they do not write what people read on the platform, but they know that they do a lot more than just distribute news.
Zuckerberg added, “We’re an important part of the public discourse.”
In August, however, the CEO said that Facebook is a technology company and not a media company. Sandberg asserted the same statement in October when she said that the social networking site is a technology company that is focused on building tools. She said the social media platform is not a media company focused on making stories, notes Digital Trends.
Why this distinction matters
The distinction between a tech and media company matters because pure tech companies receive more immunity regarding the content they serve up, both in the public eye and legally, according to TechCrunch. This actually comes from the Good Samaritan Act or the 1996 Communications Decency Act’s Section 230(c).
“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider,” the act says.
Social media companies are considered more directly responsible for the content they serve. Facebook can be said to be a mix of both. On one hand, it writes the code and algorithms like a technology company, and at the same time, it makes editorial decisions.
On the issue of misleading, fake and spam news, Zuckerberg said, “And reflecting on 2016, this is just something that I’m proud that people in this company take so seriously.”