A top Facebook executive and one of Mark Zuckerberg‘s longest-standing business partners reportedly penned a memo in 2016 that raised the possibility of a terrorist attack being organized by malicious groups using Facebook’s software.
In an internal memo obtained by BuzzFeed entitled “The Ugly,” Andrew Bosworth raised the possibilities of negative effects of Facebook’s ability to bring humans closer together, including as examples terrorist attacks or children being exposed to online bullies.
“So we connect more people,” he wrote. “That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies.”
Growth at any cost
“Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools,” he added.
Despite this, Bosworth wrote that the overall goal of connecting the world’s population “justified” the work Facebook does to grow its user base, even if some negative effects can occur.
“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,” he wrote.
Bosworth now says, however, that he doesn’t agree with the post, nor did he when he wrote it, issuing a statement Thursday afternoon calling the piece “one of the most unpopular things I’ve ever written internally.”
“I don’t agree with the post today and I didn’t even when I wrote it,” Bosworth wrote, declining to criticize specifics in the post. “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.”
Facebook has been under fire and lost millions in market value in recent weeks over revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm used by President Trump’s 2016 campaign, among others, obtained data on roughly 50 million users without their consent or knowledge.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued a public apology over the news reports, and has been called to testify before Congress over the issue.