San Francisco: As people debate Facebook’s role in influencing people during the US presidential elections by Russian ads and fake news on the platform, the company’s COO Sheryl Sandberg has stressed that the social media giant is not a media organisation, and therefore does not hire journalists.
Sandberg said that Facebook is run by technical workers and engineers and according to her, the company does not produce news content, therefore it can’t be a media company.
In an interview with US-based news website Axios on Thursday, she said, “At our heart, we are a tech company. We hire engineers. We don’t hire reporters. No one is a journalist.”
“We don’t cover the news. But when we say that, we’re not saying we don’t have a responsibility. In fact, we’re a new kind of platform… as our size grows, we think we have more responsibility,” the executive was quoted as saying.
Business Insider said a firm that is a major source of news and information for people, generates billions in ad revenue and is producing its own original television shows is classified as a media company and Facebook does all of that.
Contrary to her claim, Facebook hired former NBC anchor Campbell Brown in January to head up the company’s news division and work with other journalists to maximise their use of Facebook’s platform.
Reportedly, Facebook does not want to harm its $500 billion valuations by admitting it is a media company. If the company accepts that it is a media firm, it would open the platform up to regulatory rules in the US and other countries which Facebook would rather avoid.
Business Insider said Britain was already considering regulations that would treat Facebook more like a media company.
Meanwhile, on the Russian ad issue, Sandberg said the election meddling on the Facebook platform “shouldn’t have happened” and she wouldn’t discuss Russia or Trump.
“We know we have a responsibility to prevent everything we can from this happening on our platforms… and so we told Congress and the Intelligence committees that when they are ready to release the ads, we are ready to help them,” she said.
Sandberg said that if the Russian-linked ads were posted by “real people” and not fake accounts, Facebook would have let their content remain on the site. “When you allow free expression, you allow free expression.”
“Facebook owes the American people an apology. Not just an apology, but determination for our role in enabling Russian interference during the election,” she said.