A leaked Facebook document shows 10 Instagram product principles instructing employees to ‘understand the root cause of people’s problems’

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO.

  • Meta, aka Facebook, shared internal principles with staff to guide the development of Instagram.
  • The list said “understand the root cause of people’s problems” and “be better, not just different.”
  • Tech companies often use principles to set priorities, culture, and new strategies.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, shared internal principles with employees to guide the development of Instagram, a document viewed by Insider shows.

The list includes principles such as “understand the root cause of people’s problems” and “be better, not just different.” 

Mission statements and principles are a common way that tech-company leaders set priorities, culture, and strategic directions. Uber’s values included “always be hustlin’,” but that was replaced in 2017 along with other controversial values. Google’s motto was “don’t be evil,” until the company downgraded the phrase. Facebook’s “move fast and break things” was also changed in 2014.

Nowadays, the social-media company is facing a potential exodus after a series of crises. Results of Meta’s latest employee survey, viewed by Insider, showed that employees were losing confidence in leadership, and that fewer than half intended to stay.

Instagram, meanwhile, has been subject to recent US government scrutiny about how the social-media app affects teen health. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Instagram’s product principles, according to the document:

  1. Always start with a real-world need.
  2. Understand the root cause of people’s problems.
  3. Follow our community’s lead.
  4. Go after breakthroughs.
  5. Be opinionated.
  6. Be better, not just different.
  7. Do a few things extremely well.
  8. Sweat the details.
  9. We don’t use tests as an excuse to not finish thinking.
  10. Our metrics are not our goals.

It’s unclear exactly how the product principles have evolved over time. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram’s cofounders, said on a 2019 podcast that the early days of the company were loosely guided by principles such as putting the community first and keeping it simple.

Do you work at a major tech company or have insight to share? Contact the reporter Ashley Stewart via the encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-425-344-8242) or email ( Check out Insider’s source guide for other tips on sharing information securely.

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