Anyone who has worked in a startup knows the painstaking task of achieving growth. Even startups that grow into massive conglomerates have to constantly prove their growth. And with all the controversy raging around Facebook’s data privacy, it was only a matter of time before someone took a look at how the company managed to grow its audience and business partnerships year after year.
Buzzfeed News reports on a 2016 memo from Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth that highlights the extent to which Facebook sacrificed privacy to achieve growth. He even added that connecting people may have a negative impact as well, such as people being targeted by bullies.
Quoting from the report:
“We connect people. Period. 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 some day. All of it,” VP Andrew “Boz” Bosworth wrote.
“So we connect more people,” he wrote in another section of the memo. “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.”
Part of the problem in an ultra-competitive social media landscape is that each platform is competing for a slice of time in the user’s day, and they have to maximize their gain in that short time, which is why sacrificing privacy seems like an easy decision.
Bosworth, who famously said that selling data of millions of users is the opposite of Facebook’s business plan, was promoted to run the hardware division after the memo. In recent months, Facebook has also admitted that it can be harmful for users and former executives have come out against Facebook’s practices.
Mark Zuckerberg backed Bosworth in his response to Buzzfeed saying he “is a talented leader who says many provocative things. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We’ve never believed the ends justify the means.”
Zuckerberg added that Facebook changed its mission last year from simply connecting people to bringing them closer together.