Facebook VP’s 2016 memo shows company aware of its faults

A 2016 internal memo from Bosworth, made the case for the company’s grow-at-all-costs culture.
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A 2016 memo from a Facebook’s executive made the case for the company’s grow-at-all-costs culture.

A 2016 memo from a Facebook’s executive made the case for the company’s grow-at-all-costs culture.

A 2016 memo from a Facebook’s executive made the case for the company’s grow-at-all-costs culture, explaining that the negative consequences of the social network — even deaths and terrorist attacks — weren’t reason to abandon its purpose of connecting people to one another, Bloomberg reported.

“We connect people. Period. That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more communication in. The work we will likely have to do in China some day. All of it,” VP Andrew Bosworth wrote.

The internal memo entitled “The Ugly,” was obtained by Buzzfeed News and has not been previously circulated outside the Silicon Valley social media giant. “So we connect more people,” he wrote in another section of the memo. “That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies. “Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”

In response, Bosworth tweeted on Thursday that he doesn’t agree with the content of the post and didn’t agree with it when he wrote it. He said he was trying to shed more light on topics that are uncomfortable to talk about, because that’s a critical part of building products.

Two former employees told BuzzFeed News that Bosworth is known inside the company for his bluntness. “He is definitely a guy who isn't very diplomatic — he'd blunder into internal debates and internal comms would tend to keep an eye on what he's doing and posting,” one former senior employee of the social media giant confirmed to the news agency.

The company's  VP went on a defensive mode  by saying that the post shouldn’t be seen in isolation because it made it “appear as a stance that I hold or that the company holds when neither is the case,” he wrote. “I care deeply about how our product affects people and I take very personally the responsibility I have to make that impact positive.”

When quizzed why he wrote the memo, Boz as he is also known as, justified his actions by tweeting, “it 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.”