Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, has run up differing poles in relation to what his company is — a traditional media and news distributor or a technology company.
More recently, given the upset over Donald Trump's victory in the Presidential elections, and with the growing backlash over Facebook's failure to keep a lid on fake news, Zuckerberg now reiterates that Facebook isn't a traditional media company, but it also isn't a traditional technology company.
Facebook Is A New Platform
On Wednesday Zuckerberg hosted a Facebook live video chat with Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, girding their conversation about the year's summary and talking about things to look forward to in 2017. Both also briefly glossed over the controversy of fake news that ran rampant on the site during the elections, which according to pundits, spelled a win for Trump by some measure.
"Facebook is a new kind of platform. It's not a traditional technology company. It's not a traditional media company," said Zuckerberg during the live video chat. "[W]e do a lot more than just distribute the news, and we're an important part of the public discourse."
The new statement is apparently a course-reversal from Zuckerberg's early stance about the company, issued a day after the elections, as he spoke at the Techonomy conference.
"Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, it's a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea," he said.
He went on to suggest that its users were smart enough to detect fake news stories upon encountering them. But studies like BuzzFeed's conflict with Zuckerberg's seemingly seat-of-the-pants defense. In terms of engagement, fake election news outperformed factual and accurate reporting, according to BuzzFeed. Some of the most shared fake news involves the Pope's endorsement of President-elect Trump, Hillary Clinton selling weapons to ISIS, and more ludicrous items masking as real reports.
Zuckerberg's remarks caused a bit of controversy among pundits who were more than happy to rebuke his stance, and he elaborated upon his initial remarks made during the Techonomy conference via a Facebook post, where he stated that "more than 99 percent of what people see [on Facebook] is authentic."
Last week, Facebook tapped a number of third-party fact checkers to sandblast fake news off its site, while also cutting advertising revenue from fake news sites' coffers, closing advertising space for them altogether. Zuckerberg seems to have picked up on growing criticism of the site, and is now apparently acknowledging that Facebook owns, by some measure, a responsibility over the content that appears on the platform, even if it's not a news outlet or a media company by definition.