Read the Controversial 2016 Facebook Memo in Which an Exec Argues for 'Growth at Any Cost' 'Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And still we connect people.'
Facebook has had a rough few weeks. After news stories broke that a firm named Cambridge Analytica misused the data of 50 million people, the social network has been on the defensive. Its latest move was to stop allowing advertisers to use data mined by third parties.
But in another blow to the company, Buzzfeed yesterday published a 2016 memo by Facebook Vice President Andrew "Boz" Bosworth titled "The Ugly," which reveals that company leadership knew the pitfalls of the platform. Both Bosworth and Zuckerberg have disavowed it.
"Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly," Zuckerberg said in a statement to Buzzfeed. "We've never believed the ends justify the means. We recognize that connecting people isn't enough by itself. We also need to work to bring people closer together. We changed our whole mission and company focus to reflect this last year."
My statement on the recent Buzzfeed story containing a post I wrote in 2016 pic.twitter.com/lmzDMcrjv5— Boz (@boztank) March 29, 2018
You can read the whole memo here:
June 18, 2016
We talk about the good and the bad of our work often. I want to talk about the ugly.
We connect people.
That can be good if they make it positive. Maybe someone finds love. Maybe it even saves the life of someone on the brink of suicide.
So we connect more people.
That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.
And still we connect people.
The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned.
That isn't something we are doing for ourselves. Or for our stock price (ha!). It is literally just what we do. 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.
The natural state of the world is not connected. It is not unified. It is fragmented by borders, languages, and increasingly by different products. The best products don't win. The ones everyone use win.
I know a lot of people don't want to hear this. Most of us have the luxury of working in the warm glow of building products consumers love. But make no mistake, growth tactics are how we got here. If you joined the company because it is doing great work, that's why we get to do that great work. We do have great products but we still wouldn't be half our size without pushing the envelope on growth. Nothing makes Facebook as valuable as having your friends on it, and no product decisions have gotten as many friends on as the ones made in growth. Not photo tagging. Not news feed. Not messenger. Nothing.
In almost all of our work, we have to answer hard questions about what we believe. We have to justify the metrics and make sure they aren't losing out on a bigger picture. But connecting people. That's our imperative. Because that's what we do. We connect people.