“We connect people. Period. That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified.”
Amid a swarm of controversy and boycotts of the social media service over allegations regarding the company’s handling of user data, Facebook is reeling from the recent leak of a memo from a high-ranking exec. The memo is seen by many as a clear sign that Facebook knew and ignored the high stakes of its data collection before the 2016 election. In the fallout from the revelation that Cambridge Analytica had harvested and traded personal data of roughly 50 million users, Apple CEO Tim Cook bluntly criticized Facebook’s methods.
In 2016, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, a Facebook vice president, circulated a document encouraging the company to pursue “growth at any cost.” The memo had not been made publicly available until a recent Buzzfeed article revealed the contents of the letter. The message matter-of-factly discusses the costs associated with the type of connected world that Facebook seeks to create.
“So we connect more people,” Bosworth wrote. “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.”
The blunt memo assures employees the risks and dangers of Facebook’s crusade for growth and connectivity will be outweighed by the greater good. “We connect people. Period,” Bosworth stated.
“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 someday. All of it,” he said.
Bosworth responded to the memo via his personal Twitter account.
The memo coincides with the purported acts by Russian agents to disrupt the flow of social media information with the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election. In addition to a tumbling stock price from the shaky public trust, the tech giant is also facing potential fines and government inquiries into the company’s operations.
In his comments last week surrounding Facebook’s recent controversy, Cook called Facebook’s methods an “invasion of privacy,” pledging that Apple would “never be in that situation.”
Zuckerberg recently responded to Cook’s comments in a Vox interview, characterizing the Apple leader’s comments as “extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth.”
He then spoke to the pitfalls, such as the one the company now faces, that comes with a company that trades in connectivity. Zuckerberg claimed that he won’t allow Facebook to get mired in a public battle over who respects their customers more.
“I don’t think at all that that means that we don’t care about people,” he stated. “To the contrary, I think it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.”
Ridiculous or not, it’s the reality that company now faces as other tech giants single them out in an effort to substantiate and preserve their own operations during public concerns over privacy and personal data.