Facebook Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admits his social network is now more than just a technology company Reuters

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has come closer than ever to admitting that the social network has become a media company and shares similar responsibilities as news companies.

The 32-year-old billionaire has previously shied away from describing Facebook as a media company, a publishing company or a news platform. But amid increasing pressure brought on by the rise of fake news stories going viral on Facebook in 2016, Zuckerberg has now adjusted his view.

During a video chat with Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, Zuckerberg said: "We have a big responsibility to make sure these tools are used to create the most benefit for people around the world. Facebook is a new kind of platform; it's not a traditional technology company, it's not a traditional media company."

Facebook, which is now used by more than 1.8 billion people worldwide, was criticised in the wake of Donald Trump's shock US presidential election win. Trump critics suggested the president-elect secured some votes due to fake news stories writing negatively about rival Hillary Clinton appearing on Facebook.

Sitting alongside genuine news stories from reputable broadcasters and news agencies, it was argued that users might not spot the difference and the blame was placed at Facebook's door. Other incidents have seen Facebook criticised for removing iconic imagery on the grounds of offence, but not acting quickly enough to remove examples of hate crime or other offensive material.

Zuckerberg added: "We build technology but we feel responsible for how it's used. We don't write the news that people read on the platform but at the same time we also know that we do a lot more than distribute news and we're an important part of the public discourse."

Facebook hired a team of editors earlier this year to handle the small trending newsfeed, containing headlines and snippets of popular news stories. But these editors were let go in August and replaced by an algorithm which often failed to spot fake news stories, which then appeared in the feeds of users and were presented as fact.

Zuckerberg concluded: "We're just a small part of the social fabric around the world but we are a part of that and we have a big responsibility to get that right and to keep on doing better and better work for people all around the world and people round here take that super seriously."

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Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, December 21, 2016