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Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack': Zuckerberg disavows former Facebook employee's memo

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at the Alumni Exercises at Harvard's 366th commencement exercises on May 25, 2017, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Zuckerberg disavowed a memo by a former Facebook vice president on Friday. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

A controversial memo authored by a former Facebook vice president was published by BuzzFeed on Thursday, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has disavowed comments in the memo that emphasized the company’s need to grow regardless of any negative consequences, CNN reports.

What did the memo say?

Former Facebook vice president Andrew Bosworth’s comments reflect a blunt dismissal of responsibility for any damage the site causes, and a willingness to pursue controversial methods to fuel growth at any cost.

“That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified,” Bosworth wrote. “All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends.”

Some more excerpts:

“We talk about the good and the bad of our work often,” former Facebook VP Andrew Bosworth wrote. “I want to talk about the ugly.”

“So we connect more people. That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And still we connect people.

“The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good,” Bosworth wrote. “It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned.”

How did Zuckerberg respond?

In a statement Friday, Zuckerberg distanced himself and the company from the ideas expressed in the memo.

“Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things,” Zuckerberg said. “This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We’ve never believed the ends justify the means. We recognize that connecting people isn’t enough by itself.”

Bosworth responded to the backlash on his Twitter account Thursday:

“I don’t agree with the post today and I didn’t agree with it even when I wrote it,” Bosworth wrote. “The purpose of this post, like many others I have written internally, was to bring to the surface issues I felt deserved more discussion with the broader company.

“Having a debate around hard topics like these is a critical part of our process and to do that effectively we have to be able to consider even bad ideas, if only to eliminate them.”

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One last thing…
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