Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

We Still Connect People

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And…now the Facebook “memos” are starting to leak.

This one headlines a story from BuzzFeed, from Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook vice president writing on June 18, 2016:

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.

The memo was apparently titled “The Ugly.”

What happened to the Good and the Bad preceding the Ugly?

BuzzFeed’s team suggests this memo “reveals the extent to which Facebook’s leadership understood the physical and social risks the platform’s products carried — even as the company downplayed those risks in public.”

And they point out Bosworth was no newbie — he’d been with the company since 2006, working on everything from the introduction of the News Feed (which many people forget instigated its own privacy outcry) to Facebook’s anti-abuse system and AR/VR efforts.

Mark Zuckerberg apparently didn’t respond at the time, but did respond to BuzzFeed after publication of their story:

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.

More from Bosworth’s memo:

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.

The cynical business side of me says, “Of course it was all about growth.”

The humanitarian side of me’s reaction says, “Really? ‘We have to answer hard questions about what we believe?’”

What were the questions Facebookers asked themselves about their massive, breakneck growth, and what were their answers?

Once again, I refer you to Mark Zuckerberg’s coming testimony on Capitol Hill.  It could be the grilling of the century.

Written by turbotodd

March 30, 2018 at 8:57 am

Posted in 2018, facebook

Tagged with ,

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