Facebook has taken a lot of heat after news broke earlier this month that a data analytics firm allegedly misused information from the social network in the 2016 presidential campaign. Now, it's feeling the flames for a leaked memo that appears to champion a culture of aggressive growth.
The memo, penned by executive Andrew "Boz" Bosworth in 2016, puts a premium on getting people to sign up for and use the social network, even if Facebook inadvertently exposes them to bullying or connects terrorists. The memo even had a grim title: "The Ugly."
"Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools," wrote Bosworth, who runs Facebook's hardware business. "And still we connect people. The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good."
Bosworth acknowledged the memo in a series of tweets on Thursday, saying it was meant to stir debate and be "provocative." In the wake of the data scandal, which involved UK consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica and may land CEO Mark Zuckerberg in front of Congress, it did just that.
Unsurprisingly, Boz's defenders and critics took to Twitter to express themselves.
Antonio García Martínez, who formerly worked with Bosworth, said whoever dug up the memo "stripped it of context." He also lamented the impact the churning news would have on Facebook employees.
In a Twitter exchange, Adam Mosseri, who runs Facebook's News Feed, warned against generalizations of the company's employees. He said Facebook is "composed of many people, some more grounded and some less, and all capable of making mistakes or saying something stupid ... most of us are just trying to do right."
Former chief software architect at Microsoft Ray Ozzie sent out a cautionary tweet about leaked memos, which Bosworth retweeted:
Steven Sinofsky, former president of the Windows Division at Microsoft and board partner at a16z, said he'd once feared he'd face the same situation:
Chris Messina, a former employee at Uber and Google, chimed in, saying in part: "These issues aren't going away any time soon and there are way worse actors in the world than Facebook."
David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails, took a break from his "hiatus" to share his thoughts. In a Tweet, he used the hashtag #DeleteFacebook, which has been making the rounds on Twitter following the Cambridge Analytica scandal:
Brianna Wu, who co-founded indie game development studio Giant Spacekat, says Facebook doesn't "see the danger of their product."
US Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said when Facebook fails its "moral obligation to maintain the integrity and safety of their platform," it's up to Congress to act: