Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg allegedly wrote anti-leak diatribe in 2010

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has always been an employee-facing leader — known for addressing workers’ questions and concerns in a long-running weekly Q&A.

But last weekend, we got a peek behind the curtain.

On Sunday, the Twitter and Substack account Internal Tech Emails published a fiery email reportedly from the Facebook founder, sent Sept. 22, 2010, to the entire Facebook staff. Titled, “Please Resign,” the note blasted an unknown employee for leaking details about an alleged Facebook project to TechCrunch, denied the project’s existence and delivered an intense directive about keeping company secrets. 

Long before the bombshell Facebook Files leak, this email appears to be from a Zuckerberg early in his run as chief executive — pre-Instagram purchase, pre-pivot to mobile. He appears incensed by the leak, and goes to lengths in his email to express his frustration.

The note was first described in the book, “Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley,” a controversial tell-all by former Facebook employee Antonio Garcia Martinez.

TechCrunch had reported three days before Zuckerberg’s alleged email that workers at the company — unbeknownst to most of Facebook’s staff — were building a mobile phone. The article said Facebook aimed to integrate the still-nascent social media platform into a phone’s contacts list and other core functions, and referred to the leaker as a “source who has knowledge of the project.”

The leaked note begins, “Confidential — Do Not Share,” then denied any efforts to build a mobile phone. (The company did, in fact, release a Facebook-ized smartphone in partnership with HTC in 2013; it flopped.)

“It is frustrating and destructive that anyone here thought is was okay to say this to anyone outside the company,” the note says. “This was an act of betrayal.”

The email adds that Zuckerberg had to personally spend a lot of time “cleaning up the damage from this mess,” referring to partnerships with smartphone makers.

“I’m asking whoever leaked this to resign immediately,” the note continues. “If you believe that it’s ever appropriate to leak internal information, you should leave. If you don’t resign, we will almost certainly find out who you are anyway.”

It’s not known whether Facebook ever found the leaker. Meta’s press team did not respond to a request for comment. In 2010, when this email was sent, Facebook had about 600 million users. Facebook is currently nearing 3 billion users.

The email continues: “The cost of an open culture is that we all have to protect the confidential information we share internally. If we don’t, we screw over everyone working their asses off to change the world.” It adds that leaks make it less likely for people to be free with information within the company.

Facebook’s most high-profile leak would come in 2021, at the hands of whistleblower Frances Haugen. The engineer gave tens of thousands of internal documents to reporters and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, chronicling the platform’s ill effects on users and beyond.

The papers exposed the company’s tendency to exempt high-profile users from company rules, play down negative mental health effects and react weakly to flagged instances of human trafficking and cartel violence.

They also showed the platform’s roles in catastrophes around the globe: Armed groups used the site to incite ethnic conflict in Ethiopia, users flooded the platform with anti-vaccination content in the United States and Indian users held the company responsible for failing to prevent or police hate speech amid bloody interreligious riots.

“Let’s commit to maintaining complete confidentiality about the company — no exceptions. If you can’t handle that, then just leave. We have too much social good to build to have to deal with this,” Zuckerberg reportedly wrote in the email.

Hear of anything happening at Meta or another tech company? Contact tech reporter Stephen Council securely at [email protected] or on Signal at 628-204-5452.

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