Facebook wishes it could 'hit delete' on the notorious Andrew Bosworth memo justifying growth at all costs

Andrew BosworthAndrew Bosworth sent an infamous 2016 memo, titled ‘The Ugly.’
  • Facebook executive Niamh Sweeney told lawmakers in Ireland that Facebook wishes it could “hit delete” on an infamous memo sent by VP Andrew Bosworth.
  • The memo, titled “The Ugly,” was sent in 2016 and claimed that any growth on the platform is “de facto good” even if it leads to people being harmed or killed.
  • It was brought up in the wake of a Channel 4 investigation, which showed a Facebook moderator saying that controversial content drives engagement.

A controversial memo sent in 2016 by Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s augmented and virtual-reality vice president, continues to haunt the company.

The email, which was leaked to BuzzFeed earlier this year, claimed that any growth on Facebook is “de facto good,” even if it leads to people being harmed or killed.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally denounced the memo in March, saying it contained sentiments that “most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly.”

Now, a Facebook executive has said that they wish they could “hit delete” on the email.

Niamh Sweeney, head of public policy at Facebook Ireland, told a committee of Irish lawmakers on Wednesday that the views expressed by Bosworth do not represent those of the company.

She was pressed on the email after a moderator at Facebook’s Irish contractor, CPL Resources, was filmed by an undercover Channel 4 reporter last month saying that “if you start censoring too much, then people lose interest in the platform.” The moderator added: “It’s all about making money at the end of the day.”

Irish lawmakers quoted Bosworth’s email and asked Sweeney whether Facebook profits from violent content.

She responded: “I think a lot of us would like to go back and hit delete before he ever managed to send that… His views as expressed in that post absolutely do not represent the views of the company, we’d never stand over them and it was taken up with him at the very highest level by Mr Mark Zuckerberg.”

Sweeney also reiterated previous statements from Bosworth that even he did not believe in what he was writing. “Mr Bosworth, or ‘Boz’ as he is known within the company, has a reputation for posting provocative material to get a conversation going,” she said.

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