A newly-leaked memo, pinned in 2016 by one of Facebook’s senior executives, added to Facebook’s troubles over privacy, data leaks and its role in the presidential election this week. Published by Buzzfeed Thursday, the memo has Facebook VP Andrew “Boz” Bosworth arguing that questionable practices that lead to further growth are justified, even if they result in users committing suicide or terrorists plotting an attack on the platform.
The memo was disavowed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg following Buzzfeed’s story, who told the publication that the company “never believed the ends justify the means.” Bosworth distanced himself from the memo as well in a tweet, arguing that it was meant to provoke a discussion rather than to articulate his true beliefs. “I don’t agree with the post today, and I didn’t agree with it even when I wrote it.”
The memo argues that Facebook’s singular focus is growth, which can have positive as well as negative consequences. “Maybe someone finds love. Maybe it even saves the life of someone on the brink of suicide,” Bosworth wrote in it, while also adding: “Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”
“All the work we do in growth is justified,” Bosworth concluded.
The leak of the memo comes at a time of crisis for Facebook, following revelations that Trump campaign-linked data startup Cambridge Analytica was able to siphon personal data from 50 million U.S. Americans off the platform in 2014. Facebook learned about the data leak soon after, and sought assurances from Cambridge Analytica and its partners that the data in question would be destroyed, but didn’t notify the public until media outlets were about to report on the incident earlier this month.
Facebook’s stock has been under pressure ever since these revelations first surfaced two weeks ago, with share prices declining as much as 18%. However, the leak of the growth memo doesn’t seem to have shocked the markets; Facebook’s stock was up more than 4% Friday.