In a 2016 employee memorandum leaked this week, a Facebook manager defended the company's questionable data mining practices and championed growth from social media at any cost even death.
"It may cost a life by exposing someone to bullying," company vice president Andrew Bosworth wrote in the memo, according to BuzzFeed News, which released the full memo Thursday. "Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack tuned to our tools, and yet we connect people, the ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that everything that can connect us to more people, * de facto * is good. "
Bosworth, who led Facebook's advertising and business platform at the time, said the company's virtual reality department head confirmed he wrote the message but said he only want to start a debate. "I did not agree with that, even though I wrote it," he wrote on Twitter after Buzzfeed published his report.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is already facing a public relations crisis over allegations that the company has abused millions of people, claims users' personal information, denied the memo.
"Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things," Zuckerberg said in a statement that used Bosworth's nickname. "This was one that most people on Facebook, including myself, disagreed with – we never believed that the goals justify the means."
The 400-word memo frames Zuckerberg's oft-formulated goal, the whole world to connect via Facebook.
Bosworth's comment on Facebook's "de facto * good" efforts came after listing hypothetical examples of people who fell in love with Facebook, rescued a suicidal person, bullyed a child, or coordinated a terrorist attack.
"That's why all our work is justified," he wrote. "All the dubious contact import practices, all the subtle language that helps people search for friends, all the work we do to bring more communication. The work that we will probably have to do in China someday.
BuzzFeed noted that the memo was written almost immediately after a man was shot while watching live videos of himself on Facebook Live – one of several cruel ones Online Incidents Demonstrating the Dark Sid e of a Connected World Criticism of Facebook deepened after reports that Russian activists used their networks to spread propaganda during the US election in 2016. This month, Cambridge Analytica , an outside company associated with President Trump's 2016 campaign, has abused and exploited data from millions of users , the company crashes into a crisis.
While Bosworth now argues that he plays Devil's Advocate his memo two years ago said Facebook will continue doing what it did – connecting and expanding people – no matter how ugly the cost are.
"In almost all of our work, we have to answer tough questions about what we believe," he concluded. "We have to justify the metrics and make sure they do not get lost in a bigger picture, but connecting people is our imperative because we do that, we connect people."
In the nearly two years that the Memo remained on Facebook's internal platform, BuzzFeed wrote, staff members commenting and discussing it. While Bosworth said it was one of his most unpopular employee messages, a senior executive Buzzfeed said it was "super popular" internally.
The Verge reported that Bosworth had deleted the memo after receiving reporters this week, then wrote a new message to employees complaining of leaks.
"If we have to live in the fear that even our bad ideas will be exposed, then we will not explore them or understand them as such," the Vice President wrote to Kante. "We run a much greater risk of tripping them later."