Founder: Facebook responsible for countless deaths. Sour grapes ...


Founder: Facebook responsible for countless deaths. Sour grapes or fact?

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is fuelling a deadly addiction, says the man who created ‘the first Facebook’

Charles Hymas

The founder of the original Facebook claims the social media platform has caused “countless deaths” by failing to protect users while in pursuit of growth.
Aaron Greenspan claimed Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chairman and chief executive, had designed the platform to be as “addictive as tobacco”, in defiance of his warnings. 
Greenspan’s allegations reopen a long-running feud with  Zuckerberg, who he says sacrificed safeguards on cyber bullying, extremists and data security to pursue growth at all costs.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Greenspan, who won a confidential payout from Facebook after claiming he came up with the concept first, said: “Facebook’s addictive qualities may not kill anyone directly, as cigarettes do every day, but it is now established that the site has led to countless deaths.”Greenspan, who created the “Universal Face Book” at Harvard four months before Zuckerberg registered, cited a leaked memo written by Andrew Bosworth, vice-president of Facebook. In it, Bosworth acknowledged the site’s pursuit to “connect people” might “cost a life by exposing someone to bullies” or deaths in a “terrorist attack coordinated on our tools”.
Greenspan said: “Andrew pronounced in a now-infamous memo that such deaths were merely the cost of Facebook’s growth, ‘a de facto good’.
“With growth equated to good, the analogy to cancer as a result of the addictive process is especially apt. Mark and I fundamentally disagreed over the importance of quality versus quantity.
“Mark floored the accelerator for 15 years straight to achieve maximum quantity – and he succeeded at that. Had I remained involved I would have stressed the importance of quality in the trade-off even more. That would have meant a much smaller network.”Greenspan’s feud with Zuckerberg over who came up with the idea for Facebook is less well known than the social media boss’ legal battles with the Winklevoss brothers, which featured in the Hollywood film The Social Network.
Facebook denied the platform was designed to be addictive, saying it was working with experts to better understand excessive use and develop products that encourage healthy use. It said it was also continuing to invest heavily in security and privacy as it recognised its responsibility to keep people safe.
Bosworth insisted that the sentiments in his leaked mail were not something he agreed with. He added they had been designed simply to raise “hard topics and bad ideas” for discussion, if only to eliminate them.
— © The Daily Telegraph

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email or call 0860 52 52 00.

Next Article