(Bloomberg) -- With technology increasingly replacing workers in industries from retail to manufacturing, Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company has a duty to help businesses create new jobs. The problem will only grow worse as artificial intelligence and automation enable organizations to do without many current employees.
"Technology is certainly replacing jobs,'' she said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "And technology can also be used to grow jobs. It's our responsibility to help small businesses and large businesses all around the world use technology to grow their businesses so that they can grow jobs.''
Sandberg is making the case for Facebook's impact on the overall U.S. economy as the company seeks to modify its image as an out-of-touch, Silicon Valley-centric enterprise. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has been traveling around the U.S. to understand the economic realities of more rural areas, some of them struggling with job losses or opioid addiction. Facebook can help communities deal with these issues if people use the platform to build stronger bonds with each other, Zuckerberg has written.
After Facebook faced criticism for its role in the spread of fake news following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Zuckerberg in January wrote an open letter outlining the company's priorities, which include getting people involved in their communities and making Facebook safer. Both executives have been focused on demonstrating how Facebook sees its role evolving, from a neutral online platform for keeping in touch with friends and family to a behemoth trying to understand how it can shape society.
Sandberg spoke to Bloomberg TV on the eve of a trip to the Cannes Lions advertising festival in France, where she will pitch marketers this week on Facebook's video ads and targeting capabilities.
One of the main ways she sees Facebook helping small businesses: selling them mobile advertising so they can become more successful and expand. Sandberg has been reaching out to such businesses and training them on using mobile marketing methods on the social network, which now has almost 2 billion users.
Advertisers, especially in Europe, are as concerned as their governments are about whether Facebook has facilitated the spread of extremist ideology. They have sought ways for their promotions to be shown only against predictable, high-quality content -- which is difficult to promise on the internet. Facebook has been working to clean up its network, including by giving advertisers more tools to know where their messages are placed.
The company last week said it would rely on artificial intelligence, as well as a team of 150 counterterrorism experts, to boost its efforts.
"Success from a company point of view is to make sure there is no inappropriate content of any kind -- hate, violence, terrorism, any of this -- on our platform,'' Sandberg said.
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