Not a good look.Image: JOSH EDELSON /GettyBy Jack Morse2018-03-29 23:20:45 UTC
When you’re a high-level Facebook executive and something you said in the past comes back to haunt you, your best hope for salvation is frantically taking to Twitter.
Or so it would seem for Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, the Facebook Vice President who is trying to distance himself from an internal 2016 company memo he wrote that was published Thursday by BuzzFeed News.
The memo argues that the purpose of Facebook is to connect people, and that even if that connection means people literally die as a result, the company will not slow down in its attempts at growth.
“That can be bad if they make it negative,” he noted. “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.”
What’s more, the memo seems to justify shady growth practices in the name of growth.
“That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified,” he wrote. “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.”
Shortly after the BuzzFeed story went live, Bosworth tweeted that not only does he disagree with the contents of his own memo today, but that he disagreed with them even when he wrote it.
“I don’t agree with the post today and I didn’t agree with it even when I wrote it,” reads his statement. “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.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, that attempt to cover his ass didn’t go over so well with reporters who wondered why he would ever write a company memo that he explicitly disagreed with.
Also.. no where in this does @boztank even imply he fundamentally disagrees with what he’s saying, not sure why we’re supposed to take him at his word that he didn’t actually mean it
— Karissa Bell (@karissabe) March 29, 2018
In response, Bosworth tweeted that his post was “intended to be provocative.”
“why did you write a post you don’t agree with?” 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.
— Boz (@boztank) March 29, 2018
What other chin scratchers did he tweet? We’re glad you asked. He insisted that starting a post by taking an extreme viewpoint and then “working your way backwards is pretty reasonable.”
He failed to mention, of course, that nowhere in the memo published by BuzzFeed News does he work anything backward.
where in that memo did you work yourself backwards?
— William Turton (@WilliamTurton) March 29, 2018
He tried various iterations on this theme before apparently deciding better of it.
Not all of them, no, but I do think it is reasonable for an internal discussion to stake out a clear idea and use that as a reference point to get back to a good solution
— Boz (@boztank) March 29, 2018
In a sign of just how bad this looks for Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg managed to crawl out of his Cambridge Analytica bunker to issue a statement to BuzzFeed News:
Boz 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.
We recognize that connecting people isn’t enough by itself. We also need to work to bring people closer together. We changed our whole mission and company focus to reflect this last year.
Notably, unlike Bosworth, Zuckerberg didn’t take his thoughts to Twitter. And neither, for that matter, did he apparently attempt to hand wave away violence caused by his company in the name of connection and growth.