A leaked memo by a top Facebook executive justifying the firm’s controversial data practices has caused outrage at the company’s headquarters.
More than 3,000 Facebook employees have reacted to an internal post about the memo by vice president of consumer hardware, Andrew Bosworth.
In the memo, Bosworth gives a candid look into how far the technology giant is willing to go in order to become the world’s most popular social media platform.
He admits that the firm engages in ‘questionable contact importing practices’ but claims it is worth it even if it ‘costs someone a life.’
Many employees are ‘angry and heartbroken’ that their colleagues are sharing internal company discussions with the media.
The contents of the memo, however, has caused very little criticism and has been described as ‘super popular internally’.
More than 3,000 Facebook employees have reacted to an internal post about the memo by vice president of consumer hardware, Andrew Bosworth (pictured)
The Verge viewed an internal post in which thousands of Facebook employees responded with a combination of likes, ‘sad,’ and and ‘angry’ reactions.
Many employees supported Bosworth, and praised him for sharing the company’s feelings.
However, some criticised him for deleting the post because it looked like the company had ‘something to hide’.
Others criticised the unknown leakers at the company and said the firm needed to crack down on employees that lack integrity.
Very few voiced outrage at the actual content of the memo, according to The Verge.
The comments were made in light of yesterday’s publication of a June 2016 memo by Buzzfeed.
In the memo titled ‘The Ugly’, Bosworth admits that the firm uses ‘subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends’ – all for the purpose of growing the service.
ANDREW BOSWORTH’S LEAKED FACEBOOK MEMO IN FULL
‘All the work we do in growth is justified,’ said Andrew Bosworth, VP of consumer hardware
We talk about the good and the bad of our work often. I want to talk about the ugly.
We connect people.
That can be good if they make it positive. Maybe someone finds love. Maybe it even saves the life of someone on the brink of suicide.
So we connect more people
That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.
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. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned.
That isn’t something we are doing for ourselves. Or for our stock price (ha!). It is literally just what we do. 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.
The natural state of the world is not connected. It is not unified. It is fragmented by borders, languages, and increasingly by different products. The best products don’t win. The ones everyone use win.
I know a lot of people don’t want to hear this. Most of us have the luxury of working in the warm glow of building products consumers love. But make no mistake, growth tactics are how we got here.
If you joined the company because it is doing great work, that’s why we get to do that great work. We do have great products but we still wouldn’t be half our size without pushing the envelope on growth. Nothing makes Facebook as valuable as having your friends on it, and no product decisions have gotten as many friends on as the ones made in growth. Not photo tagging. Not news feed. Not messenger. Nothing.
In almost all of our work, we have to answer hard questions about what we believe. We have to justify the metrics and make sure they aren’t losing out on a bigger picture. But connecting people. That’s our imperative. Because that’s what we do. We connect people.
Andrew Bosworth’s reaction a year later after the memo was leaked
I’m feeling a little heartbroken tonight.
I had multiple reporters reach out today with different stories containing leaks of internal information.
In response to one of the leaks I have chosen to delete a post I made a couple of years ago about our mission to connect people and the ways we grow. While I won’t go quite as far as to call it a straw man, that post was definitely designed to provoke a response. It served effectively as a call for people across the company to get involved in the debate about how we conduct ourselves amid the ever changing mores of the online community. The post was of no particular consequence in and of itself, it was the comments that were impressive. A conversation over the course of years that was alive and well even going into this week.
That conversation is now gone. And I won’t be the one to bring it back for fear it will be misunderstood by a broader population that doesn’t have full context on who we are and how we work.
This is the very real cost of leaks. We had a sensitive topic that we could engage on openly and explore even bad ideas, even if just to eliminate them. If we have to live in fear that even our bad ideas will be exposed then we won’t explore them or understand them as such, we won’t clearly label them as such, we run a much greater risk of stumbling on them later. Conversations go underground or don’t happen at all. And not only are we worse off for it, so are the people who use our products.
He even ventures as far as to say that if connecting people causes someone to ‘die in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools’ that it’s all part of the effort to achieve growth.
Many Facebook employees have since criticized the leakers at the firm.
‘Leakers, please resign instead of sabotaging the company,’ one wrote in a comment under Bosworth’s post.
Another said: ‘How f******* terrible that some irresponsible jerk decided he or she had some god complex that jeopardizes our inner culture and something that makes Facebook great?’
‘Although we all subconsciously look for signal on integrity in interviews, should we consider whether this needs to be formalized in the interview process?’ one wrote.
Wrote another: ‘This is so disappointing, wonder if there is a way to hire for integrity. We are probably focusing on the intelligence part and getting smart people here who lack a moral compass and loyalty.’
Others slammed Bosworth for deleting the post.
‘Deleting things usually looks bad in retrospect,’ one wrote.
‘Please don’t feed the fire by giving these individuals more fuel (eg, Facebook execs deleting internal communications’).
Facebook’s VP of consumer hardware Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth (pictured) joined the company in 2006 from Microsoft. Since then, he’s become one of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s top lieutenants
‘If we are no longer open and transparent, and instead lock-down and delete, then our culture is also destroyed — but by our own hand.’
One employee suggested that Facebook had been targeted by spies.
‘Keep in mind that leakers could be intentionally placed bad actors, not just employees making a one-off bad decision,’ they wrote.
The firm’s data collection tactics have been in focus after it was revealed that 50 million members’ data had been harvested without their knowledge.
Bosworth’s years-old comments appear in stark contrast to what has been said publicly by Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica row.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have made the rounds in recent days to apologize for how it mismanaged users’ data and have announced several steps to remedy the situation, including banning user data from third-party aggregators.
But Bosworth seemed to show little remorse for the unintended consequences of Facebook’s controversial data collection techniques, which he says is all for the goal of ‘connecting people’.
‘We connect people. Period. That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified,’ Bosworth wrote in the memo.
A newly leaked internal memo, written by top Facebook executive Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth’ in June 2016, gives a candid look into how far the tech giant was willing to go in order to become the world’s most popular social media platform. ‘Boz’ responded on Twitter today
‘…That can be bad if they make it negative.’
‘Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies.’
‘Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.’
‘And we still connect people,’ he added.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg quickly came to Bosworth’s defense in a statement issued late Thursday.
‘We’ve never believed the ends justify the means,’ Zuckerberg said in a statement to BuzzFeed.
Since joining Facebook in 2006 from Microsoft, Bosworth has risen to become one of Zuckerberg’s top lieutenants. He often speaks out in defense of the company on Twitter.
In a statement on Thursday, Bosworth said he ‘didn’t agree’ with the BuzzFeed report.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) and COO Sheryl Sandberg have made the rounds in recent days to apologize for how it mismanaged users’ data and have announced several steps to remedy the situation
A former Facebook executive defended Bosworth’s internal memo, telling BuzzFeed that the memo was ‘super popular internally’.
Another former Facebook employee said the memo was just ‘Boz being Boz’.
Others said Bosworth exhibits questionable behaviors at the company.
‘He is definitely a guy who isn’t very diplomatic — he’d blunder into internal debates and internal comms would tend to keep an eye on what he’s doing and posting,’ a former senior Facebook employee told BuzzFeed.
‘The memo is classic Boz because it speaks to the majority of Facebook employee views but it’s also polarizing.’
‘This is clearly a post meant to rally the troops,’ the employee added.
Despite this, the memo gives a glimpse into how some of Facebook’s top executive felt they were doing the right thing by trying to ‘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 wrote.
‘It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned’
‘That isn’t something we are doing for ourselves. Or for our stock price (ha!)’
‘It is literally just we what we do. We connect people. Period.’
BuzzFeed noted that the memo was posted on Facebook in an employee-only group just one day after a Chicago man was shot dead on Facebook Live, the firm’s livestreaming platform.
Facebook’s vast treasure troves of user data have rapidly become the backbone behind its $450 billion market capitalization.
The firm now boasts 2 billion-plus advertisers — a statistic that has become enticing to many advertisers.
Some Twitter users are saying Facebook’s VP of consumer hardware, Andrew Bosworth (pictured), should resign as a result of the explosive memo leaked by BuzzFeed on Thursday
WHAT IS THE CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA SCANDAL?
Communications firms Cambridge Analytica has offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.
The company boasts it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.
‘Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections,’ with data on more than 230 million American voters, Cambridge Analytica claims on its website.
The company profited from a feature that meant apps could ask for permission to access your own data as well as the data of all your Facebook friends.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump
This meant the company was able to mine the information of 55 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.
This was designed to help them create software that can predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.
This information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.
It’s only now that many Facebook members are waking up to the fact that the firm has access to mountains of personal data, ranging from call logs to messages and other information.
Facebook maintains that it doesn’t sell any user data and doesn’t collect the contents of call logs or messages.
But that hasn’t stopped many users from heavily criticizing the firm’s data collection tactics.
Legislators and data privacy experts are now calling on Facebook to be regulated by the federal government.
In recent days, Zuckerberg has admitted that he believes Facebook and other tech giants should be susceptible to some kind of regulation.
The firm has also taken several steps to try and curb some of its data collection tactics.
The company is removing a feature that allowed marketers to target adverts using information from people’s lives collected outside of Facebook.
Facebook on Wednesday also put all its privacy settings on one page and made it easier to stop third-party apps from using personal information.
WHO ARE THE DATA VAMPIRES MINING FOR INFO ON FACEBOOK?
Facebook’s latest scandal involving communications firm Cambridge Analytica has served as a startling wake-up call for many users on the countless companies mining our social data.
Through a feature that meant apps could ask for permission not only to your data, but that of your Facebook friends as well, the firm was able to mine the information of 55 million users.
And, only 270,000 had given them permission to do so.
In 2014, Facebook changed its rules so that apps could no longer obtain data about a person’s friends unless those users had also authorized the app.
Still, Cambridge Analytica is far from the only firm to have access to Facebook users’ data.
By connecting your Facebook profile to a third-party app, you’re typically also granting that app permission to access your data.
You can check which apps your Facebook account is sharing data with by clicking here.
To view the apps you’ve given permission to (as shown above), go to Settings > Apps
That includes your name, profile picture, cover photo, gender, networks, username and user ID. These apps can also access your friends list, and any other public data.
Once the outside parties have access to your data, they can then use it to track different types of activity.
Many popular apps such as Instagram, Spotify, Airbnb, and Tinder can be connected to your Facebook account.
Just weeks ago, for example, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe bragged that the company stores ‘an enormous amount of information’ about users, and even tracks where they go after the movies.
MoviePass is also among the many apps that can be connected to your Facebook.
And, it doesn’t stop there.
Facebook users are waking up to just how much of their private information they have accidentally handed over to third-party apps. Social media users are sharing their shock at discovering thousands of software plugins have been gathering their data
Taking Facebook quizzes from third-party services, or doing image generators (such as the ever-popular ‘What Would Your Baby Look Like, or What Would You Look Like As The Opposite Sex), also often gives outside firms access to your data.
While these are usually preceded by a pop-up asking permission to access certain parts of your profile, many users have taken to clicking through without thoroughly reading what they’ve just agreed to.
Some users are now expressing their horror upon realizing they’ve granted permission to hundreds of third-party apps.
Other apps that have experienced viral popularity over the last few years, such as Facetune and Meitu, can access your Facebook data as well.