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March 30 · Issue #109 · View online
The Interface
Yesterday afternoon, BuzzFeed published a post from June 2016 in which Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, a member of Mark Zuckerberg’s inner circle who is now the company’s vice president in charge of hardware, talked about “the ugly” side side of Facebook’s growth hacking. The post stirred a wave of discussion online, but it also became a lightning rod for controversy inside Facebook. 
Boz deleted the post and wrote a new one explaining why. Late last night, I published that post, along with a host of reactions from Facebook employees. It’s a fascinating look inside some very raw discussion inside a company that rarely invites journalists to examine its culture of internal dissent. 
Dozens of employees criticized the unknown leakers at the company. “Leakers, please resign instead of sabotaging the company,” one wrote in a comment under Bosworth’s post. Wrote another: “How fucking terrible that some irresponsible jerk decided he or she had some god complex that jeopardizes our inner culture and something that makes Facebook great?”
Several employees suggested Facebook attempt to screen employees for a high degree of “integrity” during the hiring process. “Although we all subconsciously look for signal on integrity in interviews, should we consider whether this needs to be formalized in the interview process?” one wrote.
Wrote another: “This is so disappointing, wonder if there is a way to hire for integrity. We are probably focusing on the intelligence part and getting smart people here who lack a moral compass and loyalty.” 
There’s a lot more in here: employees debating the original blog post; speculating that the company has been infiltrated by spies; arguing that the company should show more empathy for its users. 
It’s a valuable discussion to read, in part because it cuts against a common strain of Facebook criticism: that the company’s “move fast and break things” ethos has led to a culture in which Facebook makes decision without ever considering the consequences. 
In fact, even before the 2016 election, the company was reckoning with the consequences of its growth-at-all-costs mind set. In a previously unpublished response to an employee yesterday, Boz laid out the context for his memo “The Ugly”:
The context of 2016 was a large number of tactical discussions about practices relating to growth so I decided to put a stake in the ground that I felt would invite all the conversation to one place. I was reasonably successful at that, I think, but didn’t anticipate the post being reinterpreted in a public context with none of the history or community. 
Based on the comments I read, a huge number of Facebook employees found value in reading and debating Boz’s post. It came from a long tradition of open and honest debate at Facebook. 
But as the company has grown — it now has 25,000 employees — the risks of that open culture have been thrown into stark relief. Even employees have begun to question their access to sensitive company debates. In another previously unpublished comment, a contractor questions the logic of the company’s transparency: 
“I was quite blown away by how open Facebook is, even with contractors (like me). I feel that I have been given a lot of privileges (for e.g. unfettered access on Workplace) but I have continued to wonder if I have enough context to have so much access and whether I have even earned the right to have so much access.
The employee added, regarding the leak: "I am sorry to hear what happened.”
As a reporter, of course, I fall on the side of those asking Facebook to share more about its internal workings, not less. And I’m not sure that Boz’s memo made Facebook look bad in the way that some other journalists seem to: here you had a senior executive, and confidante of the CEO, reckoning with the moral dimensions of the company’s work in a serious and apparently productive way. If he had to do it again, I imagine Boz wouldn’t write so casually about terrorism. 
On the other hand, Facebook has to reckon with the use of its platform by terrorists somewhere. A private internal forum for discussing product development does not seem, at first blush, to be a terrible place to do that.
Still, the comment that struck me the hardest last night was one from an employee who noted the connection between the leak and Facebook’s product itself:
It’s interesting to note that this discussion is about leaks pushing us to be more cognizant of our sharing decisions. The result is that we are incentivized toward stricter audience management and awareness of how our past internal posts may look when re-surfaced today. We blame a few ill-intentioned employees for this change.
The non-employee Facebook user base is also experiencing a similar shift: the move toward ephemeral and direct sharing results from realizing that social media posts that were shared broadly and are searchable forever can become a huge liability today.
A key difference between the outside discussion and the internal discussion is that the outside blames the Facebook product for nudging people to make those broad sharing decisions years ago, whereas internally the focus is entirely on employees.
Typically here we cover the reckoning over social media in the broader culture. With these comments, we see clearly how that reckoning has arrived Facebook itself. 

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