10:17 AM

Analysis: Facebook's 3,000 New Editors - Is it still a tech platform?

Timothy Lee at Vox reports:

Facebook is hiring 3,000 people to stop users from broadcasting murder and rape

Facebook has faced a string of incidents where users have filmed shocking events — like rape and murder — and uploaded them to the site. Critics argued the company wasn’t doing enough to address the problem.

Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took action to address those complaints, announcing that the company was going to hire 3,000 people — on top of the 4,500 staff it already had — to help it respond more quickly to reports of abusive behavior in the platform.


Facebook, Google, Youtube,  and Twitter define themselves as platform companies and not as media companies for a very important reason: as a media technology platform they are not legally responsible for publishing content posted by users as long as there are mechanisms to flag and remove the content.

But newspapers and traditional media companies are legally responsible for what they publish and this raises their costs of business substantially because they need editors, sub-editors, moderators and lawyers to review content before publication. 

Both the tech platforms and the media companies look very similar: they all publish pages of content with advertising.

So why does one type of company have to comply with legal and cultural norms for content while the other doesn’t? It’s a distinction that is fast disappearing as the platform companies hire people to edit their content.

You’d think the problem would yield to a solution combining algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) especially with all the hype around AI.  Facebook’s 3,000 editors is a massive 66% increase and flags the failure of technology and the wisdom of the crowd as a solution. 

Is Facebook no longer a platform company? This has huge implications for the sector.