Facebook came under fire Friday after a high-ranking executive, in a leaked 2016 internal memo, maintained that growth of the social network should be a priority — even if the growth strategy resulted in users being harmed.
“Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies,” Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, a Facebook vice president, wrote in the memo. “Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And still we connect people.”
From The New York Post
Bosworth’s memo, titled “The Ugly,” was sent to Facebook employees to address the unsavory side effects of the social network’s growth-at-all-costs mentality.
The exec argued that Facebook’s “questionable importing practices” are “justified,” because at the end of the day “anything that allows us to connect more people more often is de facto good.”
The memo was first reported by BuzzFeed News on Thursday.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg quickly distanced the company from the memo, saying it was something that “most people at Facebook, including myself, disagreed with strongly.”
“We’ve never believed the ends justify the means,” Zuckerberg said.
Bosworth took to Twitter to defend himself, saying that he did not agree with the contents of the memo.
“Having a debate around hard topics like these is a critical part of our process and to do that effectively we have to be able to consider even bad ideas, if only to eliminate them,” he tweeted.
The executive also conceded that the 2016 post — in which he said that growth was necessary even if it caused people to “die in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools” — was intended to be provocative.
“This was one of the most unpopular things I’ve ever written internally and the ensuing debate helped shape our tools for the better,” Bosworth said.
Bosworth’s memo leaking has rattled employees at the normally secretive company. The Verge, a tech news site, obtained comments from upset Facebookers who took the leakers to task.
“How f–king terrible that some irresponsible jerk decided he or she had some god complex that jeopardizes our inner culture and something that makes Facebook great?” one wrote.
Others speculated that the leak was part of a conspiracy to destabilize the social network from within.
“Keep in mind that leakers could be intentionally placed bad actors, not just employees making a one-off bad decision,” one employee theorized.
Another suggested that leakers might be “spies for the government.”
“A call to morals or problems of performance would be irrelevant in this case, because dissolution is the intent of those actors,” the employee wrote.
The release of the memo comes as Facebook is coming under attack for the way it handles users’ private data. It was revealed earlier this month that the private data of 50 million users ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a political strategy firm tied to the Trump campaign.