What’s the difference between a tech company and a media company? Here’s why we should care.
Facebook and others have long fought against being labeled as media companies because they’ll be regulated into oblivion. As a tech company, they can live in the Wild West, the grey area of regulation.
Their function is to bring people together from all over the world. Sure, they create the tools for us to build connections, and they want to place the rest of the moral responsibility our shoulders.
However, we must make the cultural distinction ourselves.
We categorize any company whose primary function is serving up content as MEDIA.
Likewise, we categorize any company whose primary function is hardware or software as TECHNOLOGY.
The argument is that social media companies float in this ambiguous space between both categories, but their global effects should make them subject to both consequences.
Social media companies, regardless of what kind of tools they make, are in the business of media, whether they like it or not.
This is how people get their news—this is how traditional media companies reach their audience. The vast majority of information traffic flows through their platforms.
Media also sits at a pivotal point between democracy and commerce. And when has social media not had an influence on either of those? *Ahem* stocks, elections, investing, consumer trends, op eds…*ahem*
This isn’t only limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (owned by FB), Tumblr, etc. For example, Zillow is also a media company. Despite owning tech companies, Zillow first and foremost serves housing content (although they may ultimately transition into being a service provider).
The social media companies do have the advantage of making their own rules first before a federal or international governing body makes those regulations for them.
If they aren’t yet officially classified as media, then they definitely can be from a cultural standpoint.
Social media companies can pull up their big kid pants and step up to the ethical/legal plate.
I believe Uncle Ben put it best: “With great power comes…” Oh, you know the rest. You’ve seen the social media memes.