Facebook is not a publisher. Despite the fact it pays publishing companies for content that it then distributes across its platform, the company insists it is not a publisher. It is a tech company and is in no way responsible for the information posted in its platform’s feed.
So, it isn’t surprising that when the tech giant launched its new magazine Grow earlier this month in the U.K., it adamantly refused to call it a magazine.
Grow is nothing more than a “business marketing programme” produced by Facebook and geared to “business leaders,” the company claims.
According to U.K publication The Press Gazette, Leila Woodington, Facebook’s head of business marketing in Northern Europe, said in a statement: “Grow by Facebook is a business-marketing program that shares thought leadership content directly with our clients through an annual event, as well as print and online marketing channels.
“We do not sell any advertising or charge for any of the events or content as this is purely intended for marketing communications purposes.”
The first issue — Grow is a quarterly publication — features no advertising and has a story on H&M’s Oscar Olsson, who heads the company’s new brand /Nyden, a piece about the growing tech industries in Paris and the Middle East, and advice about entrepreneurship from Kevin Ryan, founder of Business Insider.
Katie Maxwell is the publication’s editor-in-chief; she is also a contributing editor at Conde Nast.
However, even Grow’s editorial staff poses a problem for Facebook's declarations. When the Press Gazette inquired as to who was involved, Facebook said no journalists were working on the project. Rather, the content was created by “people commissioned to write marketing material.”
Grow is sent directly to marketing clients and available in select airport and train business lounges “with a view to reaching an audience of top business professionals.”
Facebook considers Grow to be entirely unrelated to its core product, its social-media platform.
In an era where gas-lighting and doublespeak are becoming the norm, Facebook’s further moves into a new realm — magazine publishing —and its refusal to admit it matters. A lot. As the lines between truth and what those in power want us to believe is truth, become more and more blurred, distinctions must be maintained.
Execs at the company can’t even keep the message straight. According the same story, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s EMEA vice president, calls Grow a magazine several times during her introduction to the issue.
However, admitting any involvement in publishing would put a whole new onus on the company. Suddenly, it would have to take responsibility for fake news and perhaps, though it sounds dramatic, the deepening cracks in democracy caused by it.
For now, it would be in Facebook's best interest to get their stories straight.