The ridiculous mess over at Facebook has continued to get worse, with staff allegedly in a full-on “uproar” over the fallout of the leak of consumer hardware VP Andrew Bosworth’s 2016 memo claiming things like terrorism and cyberbullying suicides were justifiable side effects of the site’s continued growth.
Per the New York Times, what began as widespread concern over the company’s Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal has now apparently transformed into a sort of panic over possible further leaks of potentially damaging internal information like Bosworth’s memo. While some staff are urging greater transparency, others have turned to shredding emails and demanding leakers be found and dealt with, the Times reported:
But the fallout at the Silicon Valley company has been wide. According to two Facebook employees, workers have been calling on internal message boards for a hunt to find those who leak to the media. Some have questioned whether Facebook has been transparent enough with its users and with journalists, said the employees, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliaion. Many are also concerned over what might leak next and are deleting old comments or messages that might come across as controversial or newsworthy, they said.
Others argued the company needs to “do more to screen for potential whistle-blowers during the hiring process,” the Times wrote.
So, in other words, the company whose whole mission was connecting users and then obsessively collecting data on and monetising those connections is now really concerned no one learn what they were talking about. Got it.
As the Times noted, Facebook’s head of news Adam Mosseri has also been compelled to publicly deny speculation from several prominent journalists including Vox’s Matthew Yglesias and BuzzFeed News’ Ryan Mac that the company has been throttling negative coverage of itself in news feeds:
We 100% do not take any action on stories for being critical of us.
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) 30 March 2018
Per BuzzFeed, which originally published the memo, Bosworth now dubiously says he was just trying to be provocative, though a former senior executive characterised its theme as “super popular internally.” CEO Mark Zuckerberg additionally published a statement in which he said he disagreed with the memo and “We’ve never believed the ends justify the means.”
"why did you write a post you don't agree with?" It was intended to be provocative. This was one of the most unpopular things I’ve ever written internally and the ensuing debate helped shape our tools for the better.
— Boz (@boztank) 29 March 2018
Facebook is currently facing numerous lawsuits and a Federal Trade Commission investigation over the Cambridge Analytica situation, in which the company’s loose data controls allegedly enabled a shady app to run off with extensive data on 50 million users without their consent. There’s also apparently some sort of leadership vacuum going on, with Zuckerberg and other senior leadership initially hiding from the press, Zuckerberg not making things any better when he finally emerged, and reports flying of the company preparing to fire one of its top transparency advocates, security chief Alex Stamos.
Beset by all these mounting scandals, Facebook’s stock lost nearly 22 per cent compared to its February 2nd peak by midweek. Though it has since recovered by slightly below 4.5 per cent, confidence in the site has at a minimum been shaken, and the company has already conceded more data-sharing incidents are likely.
This is all to say, perhaps Bosworth is right: Explosive growth at Facebook has indeed came with consequences. [New York Times]