It’s a question that keeps coming up: Is Facebook a media company, or just a technology platform?
It’s also one the company has dodged in the past, most recently by COO Sheryl Sandberg in an interview with Axios.
Asked by interviewer Mike Allen on Thursday whether Facebook should be regulated as a media company, Sandberg responded: “We’re very different than a media company.”
“We’re a new kind of platform,” she said, echoing Mark Zuckerberg’s words verbatim from a December 2016 talk on Facebook Live.
“We’re a technology company in our heart, we hire engineers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have responsibility for what people put on our site,” Sandberg added. “And we don’t write any news articles, so certainly we’re different from a media company, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have responsibility.”
“So you’re not a media company?” Allen asked.
“The hard thing about that question is, are we saying the answer, are we saying we don’t have responsibility, so I want to be really clear,” Sandberg said. “At our heart, we’re a tech company, we hire engineers. We don’t hire reporters, no one’s a journalist, we don’t cover the news.”
“We think we have more responsibility,” she added.
Sandberg’s comments come a day after the outgoing boss of the UK’s media regulator, Dame Patricia Hodgson, said both Google and Facebook were publishers in her view.
“My personal view is that they are publishers but that is only my personal view, that is not an Ofcom view,” she told politicians. “As I said, Ofcom is simply concerned about the integrity of news and very supportive of the debate and the steps that are being taken.”
Her comments raise the prospect of more regulation for Facebook, at least in the UK where publishers obey stricter rules over what they can and can’t publish.