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Friday, March 30, 2018
Internal Memo Shows Facebook's 'Growth At Any Cost' Culture


A Facebook executive said in an internal memo in 2016 that the social media company needed to pursue adding users above all else, and that the negative consequences of the social network weren't reason to abandon its purpose of connecting people.

The memo from Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook vice president, obtained by Buzzfeed News, surfaces at a time Facebook faces inquiries over how it handles personal information and the tactics the social media company has used to grow to 2.1 billion users.

According to the memo, Andrew Bosworth explained that Facebook believes the risks of growth are worth the larger goal: connecting people to one another across the globe.

"That's why all the work we do in growth is justified," Bosworth wrote in the memo. "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.

"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," he said.

Following the Buzzfeed report, Bosworth said Thursday on Twitter that he doesn't agree with the content of the post today and "didn't agree with it when I 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.

"To see this post in isolation is rough because it makes 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."

In a second tweet, Bosworth responded to questions about why he wrote the memo by saying "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."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg distanced himself from the memo's contents.

"Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We've never believed the ends justify the means," Zuckerberg said in a statement.

Facebook users, advertisers and investors have been in an uproar for months over a series of scandals, most recently privacy practices that allowed political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to obtain personal information on 50 million Facebook members. Zuckerberg is expected to testify at a hearing with U.S. lawmakers as soon as April.


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