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Facebook Controversy Take 3 - ‘The Ugly’ Memo

Updated: Apr 25, 2018

Its been a challenging few weeks for Facebook. First we had the revelations and admittance to the level of data exposed to developers in the early days. Then it was announced that Facebook Messenger was collecting Call and SMS data on Android devices. Now we’re seeing an insight into some of the internal culture and drive to ‘Grow At Any Costs’.

This week it was revealed by BuzzFeed that Andrew Bosworth or ‘Boz’ sent an internal memo to staff in 2016 saying ‘Growth’ should be the relentless focus for the company regardless of any collateral along the way. More specifically he noted “…Maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies…” or “..Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools…” (Link to article). He has since released a statement saying how he doesn't believe in the statements and they were intended to be provocative to force a discussion (Link Here).

It is easy to take a glancing look at these posts along with the other controversies and get angry and dismissive of Facebook. There has been a constant barrage of negative press towards them recently and here in lies the problem. Whilst there is genuine case for questions to be asked to the Facebook Leadership for the first two issues I don't believe this falls in the same category.

With all the negative press surrounding Facebook, you could argue now it is an opportunists best moment to release a story like this. After all we don't know when BuzzFeed first saw the memo and whether they’ve sat on it until they deemed the time was right.

There is also the point to consider that Facebook is a platform which over 2 Billion people globally use to communicate. Anything which has usage levels of that size will be inevitably be used by a minority with bad intentions. By forcing a discussion on a hard topic you can focus the conversation around how to better predict and preemptively stop these events occurring. There are thousands of highly skilled engineers working constantly to make the best possible platform for communicating. I believe that if this was really sent with intent and fostered a culture of ignoring all consequences then there would have been more people speaking out by now. That many people do not work that hard to intentionally cause harm with the tools they create.

This is why I believe it is a soft blow against Facebook which will quickly pass. For me its more interesting to see how a leader at a top company uses different ways to direct the conversation and get others interested in a topic. He may have used antagonistic language but I'm sure it set of the self propelled debate and subsequent actions he was looking for.


In The News / ITN - Each week I pick a new story from the news and provide my thoughts and opinions on it.

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