Facebook VP Says He Doesn’t Agree With Own ‘Ugly’ Memo That Pushes Aggressive Growth Tactics

“It was intended to be provocative,” Andrew Bosworth said of his 2016 memo that raised the possibility Facebook might cost “a life by exposing someone to bullies”

Last Updated: March 29, 2018 @ 4:57 PM

Minutes after BuzzFeed released a 2016 internal memo where Facebook Vice President Andrew “Boz” Bosworth argued growth is paramount — even considering the company’s “questionable” practices and “subtle language” — he pushed back against his own words.

“I don’t agree with the post today and I didn’t agree with it even when I wrote it,” Bosworth tweeted on Thursday afternoon. “The purpose of this post, like many others I have written internally, was to bring to the surface issues I felt deserved more discussion with the broader company. Having a debate around hard topics like these is a critical part of our process and to do that effectively we have to be able to consider even bad ideas, if only to eliminate them.”

Bosworth was responding to a BuzzFeed report earlier in the day featuring the two-year-old company memo titled “The Ugly,” where he argued Facebook’s mission of connecting the world is essential, even if it comes at a price.

“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,” wrote Bosworth in the memo.

The memo comes to light in the aftermath of Facebook’s massive data leak, where political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica grabbed the information of 50 million unwitting users. The leak has many calling into question Facebook’s handling of user privacy — with the social media giant failing to publicly acknowledge the issue until it was reported two weeks ago.

Bosworth’s 2016 memo indicated Facebook execs had considered the consequences of the company’s aggressive growth strategy, saying it was possible “someone dies in a terrorist attack” after connecting on the social media site.

“So we connect more people,” said Bosworth later in the memo. “That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies.”

In his tweet on Thursday, Bosworth said the memo doesn’t reflect how he or Facebook feels about its mission.

“To see this post in isolation is rough because it makes it appear as a stance that I hold or that the company holds when neither is the case. I care deeply about how our product affects people and I take very personally the responsibility I have to make that impact positive,” Bosworth tweeted.

Social media questioned why he wrote a statement he didn’t agree with, to which he answered, “It was intended to be provocative. This was one of the most unpopular things I’ve ever written internally and the ensuing debate helped shape our tools for the better.”

To read the full BuzzFeed story, click here.