After the rise of fake news, Zuckerberg proclaimed that Facebook is a non-traditional media company, rather than a technology firm. Users act as their own reporters, and Facebook realizes they have to take more responsibility for what is reported.
It looks like Facebook is having their ‘man in the mirror’ moment after stories of fake news urged CEO Mark Zuckerberg to give a new perspective on Facebook’s role in bringing news to the world. The comments were made in a live interview with COO Sheryl Sandberg, where Zuckerberg offered support to employees fighting fake news.
Facebook fake news may not be tolerated for long. Zuckerberg announced the launching of product updates and partnerships designed to fact-check stories on news feeds.#Zuckerberg now sees #Facebook as an unorthodox #media outlet.Click To Tweet
Ultimately, Zuckerberg has made the statement that he feels somewhat responsible for the rash of fake news and that he is beginning to see Facebook as a non-traditional media company.
A ‘new’ Kind of Media Company
In the past, Zuckerberg saw Facebook as a tech company. While Facebook isn’t in the business of pushing out media content, their users are. Users function as reporters in what is essentially an unorthodox media empire.
The distinction between tech company and media outlet is important because pure technology platforms have less legal and PR issues. Technology is a tool, and developers aren’t always liable for what is done with their product, but media outlets have more responsibility. According to the 1996 Communications Decency Act, “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.”
Imagine Facebook as a newsroom. The users report. After that, the News Feed algorithm acts as an editor. Then, Facebook’s leaders add oversight, keeping important news stories in the feed even if it conflicts with the algorithm’s tastes.
This has obliged Facebook to take greater responsibility within the process in order to reduce the number of Facebook fake news stories.
Facebook, as a tech company, enabled fake news without legal repercussions. They may have responded on their own, but rising public discontent has caused them to take responsibility right now.
Employees Fed up With Facebook Fake News
Zuckerberg’s stance has clearly changed. The impetus may have come from his own employees.
Immediately after the U.S. Presidential election, Zuckerberg was reluctant to admit the scope of the fake news phenomenon. This caused some employees to react by assembling in secret and applying pressure to the CEO.
Some may question the source, Buzzfeed, but apparently those meetings started on November 14th, and in just four days Zuckerberg had changed his tone and started publically noting that fake news is a serious threat. He also added the ways in which Facebook would fight fake news, several of which have already launched.
Live with Sheryl reflecting on 2016 and looking forward to the new year.
Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, December 21, 2016
For more info, or to hear Zuckerberg’s comments yourself, watch the full video above.