Face­book boss: Any­thing that helps firm grow is good... even if some­one dies in ter­ror at­tack

Daily Mail - - News - By Mail For­eign Ser­vice

A FACE­BOOK boss said the drive to keep ex­pand­ing the so­cial me­dia gi­ant was jus­ti­fied even if it led to deaths or ‘ques­tion­able’ prac­tices with data.

A leaked in­ter­nal memo re­vealed the ex­ec­u­tive said even if Face­book was used by bul­lies or ter­ror­ists plan­ning at­tacks the most im­por­tant thing was con­nect­ing peo­ple and en­sur­ing the growth of the com­pany.

An­drew Bos­worth also said eth­i­cally du­bi­ous data prac­tices could be jus­ti­fied if they re­sulted in Face­book con­tin­u­ing to grow.

In fran­tic Twit­ter posts af­ter the memo was made pub­lic, Mr Bos­worth claimed he did not ac­tu­ally agree with the doc­u­ment and was only be­ing ‘provoca­tive’. But for many it showed the real mind­set of Face­book bosses. The com­pany is go­ing through its worst ever cri­sis af­ter al­le­ga­tions its lax pri­vacy poli­cies could have un­fairly swung the US elec­tion and the Brexit ref­er­en­dum. The claims have led to the firm be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by pri­vacy reg­u­la­tors in the US, the UK and Europe.

Mr Bos­worth, who prefers to be known as Boz, is part of founder Mark Zucker­berg’s in­ner cir­cle and joined the com­pany in 2006. He has been in­volved in ev­ery­thing from the news feed shown to users to its anti-abuse sys­tems.

His memo, writ­ten in Jan­uary 2016 and ob­tained by the web­site Buz­zfeed, said: ‘ So we con­nect more 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.

‘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.’

In another sec­tion, he said: ‘ We con­nect peo­ple. Pe­riod. That’s why

‘In­tended to be provoca­tive’

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.’

Such an at­ti­tude has led Face­book to amass more than two bil­lion users. But the cost be­came ap­par­ent in the past few weeks when it emerged that Face­book’s in­ad­e­quate pri­vacy rules al­lowed Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica, a British po­lit­i­cal consulting com­pany, to har­vest the data of 50mil­lion users with­out their per­mis­sion.

So­cial me­dia has been a boon to ter­ror­ists, who have used it to spread hate. Groups such as Al Qaeda and IS have set up spe­cial teams to make use of Face­book, Twit­ter and YouTube. Mr Bos­worth’s memo sparked anger within Face­book, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­nal posts by em­ploy­ees ob­tained by tech web­site The Verge.

One em­ployee asked if the com­pany was hir­ing ‘smart peo­ple’ who ‘lack a moral com­pass and loy­alty’. Mr Bos­worth said he wrote the memo to ‘bring to the sur­face is­sues I felt de­served more dis­cus­sion’, even though he did not agree with them. He wrote: ‘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.’

Mr Zucker­berg said: ‘Boz is a tal­ented leader who says many provoca­tive things. This was one that most peo­ple at Face­book in­clud­ing my­self dis­agreed with strongly.’

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