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Mark Zuckerberg: What’s good for world isn’t always good for Facebook

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facebook ceo mark zuckerberg priscilla chan
Mark
Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan attend the 2019 Breakthrough Prize
at NASA Ames Research Center on November 4, 2018 in Mountain
View, California.

Lachlan
Cunningham/Getty Images for Breakthrough
Prize


  • What’s good for the world isn’t the same as what’s good
    for Facebook,
    CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a leaked email.
  • The British Parliament released a trove of confidential
    internal emails from the social networking giant on
    Wednesday.
  • The documents provide an unprecedented window into
    Facebook’s ruthless approach to growth.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once privately made a stark
admission: What’s good for the world isn’t necessarily what’s
good for Facebook.

On Wednesday, the UK Parliament released a trove of confidential
internal Facebook emails it seized from an app developer who had
obtained them as part of a legal battle with the Silicon Valley
tech giant. It was an extraordinary move, with the documents
supposed to remain under seal by order of a California judge. The
publication of the documents has provided an unprecedented window
into the inner workings of Facebook’s executive team and their
ruthless approach to competition.

In one email, sent by Zuckerberg on November 19, 2012, the chief
executive candidly discussed his attitude toward providing
third-party apps with access to its platform.

“Sometimes the best way to enable people to share something
is to have a developer build a special purpose app or network for
that type of content and to make that app social by

having Facebook plug into it,” he wrote.

But, he added: “However, that may be good for the world but
it’s not good for us unless people also share back to Facebook
and that content increases the value of our network. So
ultimately, I think the purpose of platform – even the read side
is to increase sharing back into Facebook.”

In other words: Zuckerberg said that sometimes the best
option for people who want to share stuff

is to do
it via specialized apps, only using Facebook tools to make doing
so more social. But that doesn’t align with Facebook’s interests
and aggressive strategy of growth — so the company would instead
push to bring this sharing inside Facebook’s walled garden, even
if it’s to the detriment of users and the “world.”

It’s a far cry from Facebook’s outward-facing messaging that it
is hoping to make the world “more open and connected.”

It also contrasts with a memo top Facebook exec Andrew “Boz”
Bosworth wrote in 2016 to his colleagues, in which he defended
Facebook’s growth and connecting people at any cost, even if
people died.

“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. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do
tell the true story as far as we are concerned,” Boz wrote. “That
isn’t something we are doing for ourselves. Or for our stock
price (ha!). It is literally just what we do. We connect people.
Period.” 

After
BuzzFeed published the memo in 2018, the exec backtracked
,
saying he didn’t believe what he had written even at the time,
and that it was intended to be provocative.

The attitude Zuckerberg expressed in the 2012 email was also not
unique to him. In an email, COO Sheryl Sandberg agreed with him:
I like full reciprocity and this is the heart of
why.”


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Here’s the email exchange shared in the documents:

MZ email 19 November 2012

‘After thinking about platform business for a long
time

, I wanted to send out a note
explaining where I’m leaning on this. This isn’t
final
and we’ll have a chance to discuss this
in

person before we decide this for sure, but since
this is complex, I wanted to write out my thoughts. This is long,
but hopefully helpful.

‘The quick summary is that I think we should go with full
reciprocity and access to app

friends for no charge.
Full reciprocity means that apps are required to give any user
who connects to FB a prominent option to share all of their
social content within that service back (ie all content that is
visible to more than a few people, but excluding 1:1 or
small

group messages) back to Facebook. In addition
to this, in the future, I also think we should develop a premium
service for things like instant personalization and coefficient,
but that

can be separate from this next release of
platform…

‘We’re trying to enable people to share everything they
want, and to do it on Facebook.
Sometimes the best
way to enable people to share something is to have a developer
build a special purpose app or network for that type of content
and to make that app social by
having Facebook plug
into it. However, that may be good for the world but it’s not
good for
us unless people also share back to
Facebook and that content increases the value of our network. So
ultimately, I think the purpose of platform

even the read side is to increase sharing back
into Facebook.’

…’It seems like we need some way to fast app switch to
the FB app to show a dialog on our

side that lets
you select which of your friends you want to invite to an app. We
need to make sure this experience actually is possible to build
and make as good as we want,

especially on iOS where
we’re more constrained. We also need to figure out how
we’re

going to charge for it. I want to make sure
this is explicitly tied to pulling non-app friends out

of friends.get.’ (friends information)

…’What I’m assuming we’l
l do here is have a
few basic thresholds of API usage and once you pass a threshold
you either need to pay us some fixed amount to get to the next
threshold

or you get rate limited at the lower
threshold.’

Email from SS – 19 November 2012

SS ‘I like full reciprocity and this is the heart of
why.’

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