Facebook is not a "media company", says Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that the social media platform will not become a media company and will remain a technology platform.

According to Reuters, Zuckerberg said that the company has no ambitions to become a content provider. This is in response to a question asked during a town hall Q&A in Rome, where a member of the public asked if there were intentions for Facebook to become a news editor. Zuckerberg acknowledged the role it currently plays in giving users access to news content through its platform. However he added that as a technology company, Facebook creates the tools but does not produce any content.

But the question that many seem to be asking is that in today's world do you necessarily need to create original content to be seen as a media company? After all, Facebook has long been seen as a leading go-to source when it comes to the public's content consumption needs.

Prashant Kumar, formerly president of IPG Mediabrands in Asia and current lead at Entropia said as a long-time media industry practitioner, he would see Facebook as a media owner because ads can be bought and sold on the platform. But how consumers see Facebook is definitely different from how B2B industries and advertising industry players see it, he added.

"Our industry sees Facebook as a platform which can buy and sell services to," he said. But at the end of the day Facebook, unlike Google which has its own army of content creators, does not own any original content.

"When you see a post from a friend on Facebook, you don't say Facebook created the video. You attribute it to your friend," he said. Kumar added that in traditional world, content was used to draw in eyeballs and aggregate people. The two were closely tied. But today the content creation role is different from audience aggregator role. As such, there is some truth to Zuckerberg's words.

Chloe Neo, managing director of OMD Singapore said when it comes to defining what a media company really is, it is not just the creation of content concerned but also how that content is being disseminated. She said:

Since Facebook has been increasing used by people as a communication and dissemination platform, I can see why people who are not as familiar with Facebook, its vision and evolution, would say it is a media company.

She added this misunderstanding might be further exacerbated because Facebook went into selling ad spaces as a means of commercialisation of its technology.  Like Kumar however, she was of the view that in the industry, Facebook is still seen a technology partner rather than a media company.

"Although Facebook has came a long way and evolved into an entity which may have similar functions to a media company because of the convergence of communication and technology, it has clearly defined itself and remain true as a brand and a technology company, and that is how it started out and continue to evolve," Neo added.

Meanwhile, the social media giant also said it will be using specialised software to show adverts to desktop users who have installed ad blockers, as the ad-blocking begins to threaten the social network’s advertising revenue. It added that it would also be updating its ad controls to allow users to specify ad preferences to increase relevancy value to advertisers. Many have deemed the move “bold” given the social media’s strong stance on this matter.

Most recently Facebook-owned Whatsapp, a messaging app also recently announced plans to share user data with its parent company, including phone numbers as part of plans to allow businesses to send messages to users.