I log onto Facebook for two main reasons – news sharing and news sharing.
One, when I post articles published by media companies and two, when I want to share an important personal news with friends. Sometimes, people comment on the articles I post. It then becomes an online adda zone (and sometimes, a right vs. left battle zone).
Basically, every one accepts that Facebook has become a media company – a window to what's happening around the world – just like TV or newspapers or news websites – baring the social network site itself!
Instead, Sherly Sandberg, Facebook's celebrity COO, wants us to believe that it is just a tech company, albeit a big one. They do not want to admit being the original source of news and stories, or the platform where several politicos, celebs and government agencies post statements and put out their version of an event.
Media selects whats they want you to see or read (you don't have a choice).
But on Facebook, you read articles the world around wants to share with you. There is so much news on Facebook that it led to creation of news trending section on the homepage. Not to forget the paid news ads that crop up on your timeline randomly.
Yet, Facebook won't admit to its role in news distribution or content generation.
"We hire engineers. We don't hire reporters. No one is a journalist,” Sandberg recently said at a conference.
Ummm, what about Campbell Brown – the former NBC anchor who's heading Facebook's news division, outlining how journalism and journalists function on the web in a certain way?
You see, Facebook doesn't want to jeopardise its $500-billion valuation. And by admitting to being a media organisation, it will have to comply with several tough laws (something it doesn't wanna play by, me thinks).
Sandberg said, and I quote: "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."
Hell, yea! You do have a much bigger responsibility.
And deep down, Facebook knows it.
Facebook knows it's much bigger than a mere content aggregator.
It's a content generating news percolator machine – just like a newspaper, with a much greater reach.
Why else would it take pains to initiate an online-offline campaign to create awareness on the menace of 'false news'? Or cut off advertising revenue to fake news sites?
"At our heart we're a tech company," Sandberg said. That's probably a 'false' perception, much like Uber saying it's just a tech company, not a cab service provider!
Facebook might have started out as a tech firm that focused on online networking. But today, it generates billions of dollars through ad revenues and is one of biggest source of information – personal and public – just like news organisations.
Time to fess up, Facebook.