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Sheryl Sandberg got all wrong about Facebook’s role as a media company (FB)

sheryl sandbergFacebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.Ruben Sprich/Reuters

How would you systematise a company that:

  • distributes news and information to billions of people every month?
  • is a major source of news and information for a vast cube of those billions of people?
  • sells ads that run alongside those news articles and videos, generating billions in income every quarter?
  • is paying companies trimming from the NFL to Insider to make strange video programming that streams to mobile devices, computers, and connected set-top boxes?
  • is appropriation and producing its own strange radio shows?

Most would call that a media company. And many would design that company to belong to the standards, safeguards, and manners that all media companies do.

But Facebook, which does all of the above, will not concur it’s in the media business. Indeed that’s a sequence the company has avoided for years. 

On Thursday, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s arch handling officer, released the latest such rejection of the obvious, telling Axios editor Mike Allen that the social networking giant is not a media company. To make her case, Sandberg forked to the fact that Facebook is run by technical workers and engineers. In her view, since the company itself doesn’t furnish news content, it can’t be a media company.

“At the heart we’re a tech company,” Sandberg said. “We sinecure engineers. We don’t sinecure reporters. No one is a journalist. We don’t cover the news. But when we contend that, we’re not observant we don’t have a responsibility. In fact we’re a new kind of height … as the distance grows, we consider we have some-more responsibility.”

But that’s an impossibly slight perspective of what a media company is. Sandberg’s clarification of a media business seems to be a classification that hires reporters and producers to make news content. But media companies are broader than that. They curate content. They discharge it. The beget ad income from it.

A company such as Facebook, which distributes media and creates income off it by selling ads is, by definition, in the media business. Sandberg is right to indicate out that Facebook’s distance means it has a large shortcoming to discharge accurate information. But she’s wrong to repudiate it serves many of the same functions of a media company.

It doesn’t matter that computers or algorithms or engineering geeks are making editorial decisions. They’re still portion the editorial functions of a media company. In fact, Sandberg pronounced progressing in the talk that Facebook was portion an editorial role by showing users associated articles to news stories they see their News Feed and employing fact-checking organizations to oldster some content.

The renewed questions about the company’s role in the intersection of tech and media come as the discuss around feign news and feign Russian ads on the height are heating up. The United Kingdom is already deliberation regulations that would provide Facebook some-more like a media company, for example.

Sandberg’s also wrong to contend Facebook doesn’t sinecure journalists. The company hired former NBC anchor Campbell Brown in Jan to conduct up the company’s news multiplication and work with other reporters to maximize their use of Facebook’s platform.

There are countless reasons because Facebook would be reticent to acknowledge it’s a media company. It could mistreat its sky-high valuation, which is now at about $500 billion. That’s a tech company valuation, not a media company valuation. It would also open Facebook up to regulatory manners in the US and other countries that it would rather avoid.

But the abuse on Facebook’s platform, from feign Russian ads to feign news swelling as recently as last week’s Las Vegas shooting, show a larger need for Facebook to start behaving like the media classification that it is. The earlier Facebook admits that, the better.

This mainstay does not indispensably simulate the opinion of Business Insider.

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