At a briefing at its west London HQ to announce the new BBC homepage Ian Hunter, managing editor of BBC Online, was keen to stress that, although the homepage had social aspects to it and that the BBC's website offered numerous sharing tools, the corporation itself still has no intention to launch its own social platform.

"The BBC has said that it will not set up a social network. It's not going to do that," he said. "But that doesn't mean to say that this is going to be a space where social relations are not reflected.

He described how the power of the user was now being reflected on what the BBC offers up on its front page.

"For the first time [on the BBC's homepage] what other users are doing starts to have an impact on the choices that we offer and we will expect to see that extend across the site.

"Already on the news site the most read, most shared and most watched are important ways of getting users around the product."

Hunter also stressed that the BBC's social tactic, at the moment, was to play nicely with, not against, the social network status quo.

"The other thing that we're doing is integrating with Twitter and Facebook, with our share tools. If you want to publish stuff to your Twitter account it's easy to do.

"We're working with the established social networks, we're not trying to set up our own."