Tech

Facebook: We’re not a media company. Also Facebook: Watch our news shows.

Want create site? Find Free WordPress Themes and plugins.

The time has come for Facebook to admit an uncomfortable truth: The social media company is, in fact, a media company.

That’s been true for years, but it’s a fact that’s becoming more and more difficult to ignore. This week, less than two months after Mark Zuckerberg insisted to Congress that he’s not running a media company, the social network announced its long-anticipated plan to launch a slate of news programming for its video portal, Facebook Watch.

The project, spearheaded by former CNN journalist and current Facebook exec Campbell Brown, is part of the company’s recent commitment to “high-quality journalism” in the wake of Facebook’s fake news scandals

The initiative, which is being billed as an “experiment” to create “a destination for high-quality and timely news content,” includes Facebook-exclusive shows from major networks, like CNN and Fox News, as well as smaller publishers like Mic and Attn. 

The shows, which reportedly have multimillion-dollar budgets, will cover everything from breaking and local news to more niche topics, like a weekly show featuring interviews with investigative journalists from Alabama Media Group.

'Real America' with Jorge Ramos, produced by Univision, will be one of the shows in Facebook's new effort to boost Facebook Watch.

‘Real America’ with Jorge Ramos, produced by Univision, will be one of the shows in Facebook’s new effort to boost Facebook Watch.

But Facebook’s non-media company ambitions don’t end there. This week, reports also surfaced that Facebook-owned Instagram is preparing to launch a Snapchat Discover-like media hub, where the app will curate longform video content from influencers and publishers. 

If all this sounds suspiciously like the kinds of things a media company would do, that’s because they are. Media companies are, after all, in the business of producing, packaging, and distributing content. 

Despite this, Facebook executives continue to insist that it isn’t a media company, because it’s only paying for the content, not creating it themselves. It’s an excuse the company has relied upon for years.

“We actually define ourselves as a technology company,” Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing solutions at Facebook, said in 2012. “Media companies are known for the content that they create.”

Likewise, Zuckerberg told members of Congress in April that Facebook is a technology company “because the primary thing that we do is have engineers who write code and build products and services for other people.”

(Zuck, by the way, isn’t the only tech executive to bristle at the question. Marissa Mayer, the former CEO of the tech/media company Yahoo, also hated it, even though Yahoo eventually embraced its role as both a technology and a media company.) 

Why the media question matters

The question of whether Facebook is or isn’t a media company isn’t just a trick for putting Facebook’s executives on the spot. Identifying itself as a media company could have very real consequences for Facebook. As CNBC pointed out back on April, it would mean the company could have to adhere to the much stricter advertising guidelines that regulate the traditional print and broadcast industries. 

Beyond that, though, the question is significant because the way Facebook chooses to answer (or not answer) has far reaching implications for Facebook’s 2 billion users.

Denying the fact that it’s a media company gives Facebook the cover to shirk responsibility for the very real consequences its editorial decisions have on users. For all its ad campaigns warning about fake news and misinformation, these efforts are meaningless if the company is unwilling to take more of a responsibility for the content on its platform.

But taking that responsibility would also require adhering to the editorial standards of a media company — something Zuckerberg has been loath to do, particularly since the trending topics fiasco resulted in conservatives accusing the company of bias.

For his part, Zuckerberg’s reasoning has been that he doesn’t want Facebook, the company, to become an “arbiter of truth.” That sounds reasonable enough on its face, but Zuck’s logic is deeply flawed here. 

No one is asking Facebook to decide what’s true. Facts are facts. Or, as Atlantic editor Adrienne Lafrance sums up, “The truth may be nuanced, but reportable facts are often quite straightforward.”

Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to agree. In typical Silicon Valley shortsightedness, the CEO is under the impression that Facebook’s scale is enough to solve the problem of figuring what’s true or what isn’t. In his view, the best way to sort out the facts is to simply present as many viewpoints as possible and let Facebook’s users decide for themselves, explains LaFrance, who participated in a roundtable discussion with Zuckerberg.

This is problematic for a number of reasons, but mostly because it assumes that other people’s opinions will somehow guide you to the truth. 

“As any journalist can tell you,” LaFrance writes, “the best answer to the question, ‘What happened?’ is not, ‘Why don’t you ask a bunch of your friends what they think, organize their views along a spectrum, and then decide where to plant yourself.'”

By refusing to admit that Facebook is, in fact, a media company, Zuckerberg is also giving in to the same forces that helped so many conspiracy theory-laden fake news stories to spread in the first place. 

So, no, launching a handful of news shows won’t fix the problem. Instead, it needs to start acting like the media company it is — defining its standards and clearly identifying editorial staffers. Perhaps it could also hire a public editor, as my former colleague Seth Fiegerman argued in 2016.

In other words: stop relying on crowd-sourcing, and start taking some lessons from the journalists you’re already paying.

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f86047%2f93e22fee 2bf2 4b04 aed7 211398800929

Did you find apk for android? You can find new Free Android Games and apps.
Advertisements
Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close
Close