In a leaked 2016 internal memo, big cheese Facebook exec and Zuckerberg’s right-hand henchman Andrew “Boz” Bosworth raised ire and fire within the company’s ranks with a semi-Machiavellian mission statement.
The blunt memo is titled “The Ugly,” a reminder – no, a reassurance to Facebook employees that despite the social ramifications and consequences brought about by their product, it should be business as usual.
Their business, after all, per Bosworth, is not policing society but connecting it.
They connect people. Period.
Bosworth wrote, “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.”
On Thursday, website Buzzfeed let this Bosworth rant out of the “Friends-only” bag and published the previously non-publicly available memo for all the world to see.
Viewed within the filter of a non-Facebook shill, the memo takes a rather perceptibly sinister tone – Company growth at all costs.
Peruse these other passages within Bosworth’s opus:
“So we connect more people. That can be bad if they make it negative,” he continued. “Maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”
“And still we connect people,” Bosworth stresses. “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.”
TL;DR version – Facebook. Connects. People: Everything. Is. Forgiven.
The Ugly – two years later
Bosworth is now being crucified for his blunt statements, his own words used to betray him in a public Gethsemane, where the internet echo chamber amplifies 30 pieces of silver into 2 billion strong.
But let’s frame this rant in context. This Bosworth memo was circulated in 2016, a day after a Chicago man was shot dead while broadcasting on Facebook Live. It’s just another one on a string of repeated Facebook Live deaths that year that yet again plunged the company into semi-crisis mode.
This was all before the fake news, Russian collusion, election tampering claims and more importantly, the recent Cambridge Analytica controversy that’s shaking Facebook to its foundation.
The handwashing begins
Bosworth himself has confirmed the memo as the real deal but he stressed that it was simply meant to rally his Facebook troops and initiate a debate within the company given that particular moment in time.
He is, after all, known as one of the more outspoken but polarizing Facebook employees, an instigator of sorts and he was merely living up to his reputation then.
His response (via Twitter) to the “The Ugly” memo fallout is defensive, even verging on apologetic, asking us to forgive him for he does not know what he does.
My statement on the recent Buzzfeed story containing a post I wrote in 2016 pic.twitter.com/lmzDMcrjv5
— Boz (@boztank) March 29, 2018
Head Facebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg is distancing himself from whatever can of worms the leaked memo unleashed.
In a statement, Zuckerberg wrote, “We’ve never believed the ends justify the means. We recognize that connecting people isn’t enough by itself. We also need to work to bring people closer together.”
But aren’t Bosworth’s conjectures as scathing in 2016 as they are in 2018? Aren’t they revealing Facebook’s very own culture as a company?
Is Facebook, the ultimate hive-mind tool that’s supposed to bring the world together, actually tearing it apart?
I think the statements are relevant as ever as Facebook’s role in shaping destinies is being dissected and questioned. Internal or not, they do bring to the forefront such ugly truths that Facebook has to confront and answer now, more than ever.
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