"Maybe Someone Dies" But Facebook Must Keep Growing: Leaked Memo

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"Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools," Facebook Vice President Andrew Bosworth wrote in an internal memo titled "The Ugly" that was circulated within the company in 2016, BuzzFeed reports. The executive that's been with the company since 2006 when he made a switch from Microsoft wrote that Facebook's mission of "connecting people" is something that's so paramount that anything that allows it to continue growing "is *de facto* good," having said that quest for growth is a crucial aspect of the social media giant's identity and represents its "imperative" that cannot be changed or abandoned.

Connecting more people more frequently "can be bad if they make it negative," the official wrote, without clarifying who "they" are but presumably referring to users. Besides acknowledging Facebook's tools could be misused to coordinate a terrorist attack, Mr. Bosworth also mentioned the possibility that the platform leads to the loss of more lives "by exposing someone to bullies," likely referring to suicide. The incessant pursuit of growth is justified "even if it allows some to do true, even catastrophic, harm to others," the memo reads, adding that the goal of that approach isn't selfish or aimed at creating shareholder value but is "literally just what we [Facebook] do. We connect people. Period."

The leak already prompted massive online controversy, having been harshly criticized by countless users on various forums and social media networks, Facebook included. Mr. Bosworth took to Twitter on Thursday to claim the memo cannot be understood outside of context, having said he doesn't agree with its contents now and didn't even agree with it when he wrote it. Instead, the executive said the newly emerged memo and "many others" he authored and circulated within the firm in the past were meant to promote discussion that allows the company to identify and debate all ideas, even those that are "bad," if only to end up eliminating them. The comment implies that's what Facebook did with the stances outlined in the controversial memo and currently isn't pursuing growth at all costs.

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The document also suggests Facebook still hasn't given up on the possibility of relaunching its service in China where it was blocked in 2009. The contents of the memo are more controversial given recent issues surrounding Facebook's privacy scandal that revealed political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica harvested personal data of some 50 million Facebook users in an improper manner three and a half years back. The matter is now being investigated by authorities in multiple countries, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly being set to testify about the incident in front of U.S. Congress next month. The ordeal could lead to heavier regulations being imposed on the world's largest social media network, many industry watchers speculate.

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Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]

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