This is the year everybody—including founding executives—started publicly questioning the consequences of social media on our lives.
Last month, Facebook’s first president Sean Parker decided to open up about his regrets regarding helping build social media as we now know it. “I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because of the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people, and it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” he said. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
Also, Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice president of user growth, who worked at Facebook from 2005 to 2011, recently expressed his concerns. During a public discussion at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Palihapitiya said to the audience, “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
Several of his comments seem to echo Parker’s concern. Parker has claimed that social media creates “a social-validation feedback loop” by giving users “a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever.”
Some days after Parker made those comments, Palihapitiya said to the Stanford audience, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works.” He added: “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem—this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”
When the host asked Palihapitiya if he had been doing any soul-searching regarding his role in building Facebook, he replied: “I feel tremendous guilt. I think we all knew in the back of our minds—even though we feigned this whole line of, like, there probably aren’t any bad unintended consequences. I think in the back, deep, deep recesses of, we kind of knew something bad could happen. But I think the way we defined it was not like this.”
He tried to explain what “this” is:
“So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion. It is eroding the core foundation of how people behave by and between each other. And I don’t have a good solution. My solution is I just don’t use these tools anymore. I haven’t for years”.
Palihapitiya also said he doesn’t use social media as he “innately didn’t want to get programmed.”And also for his kids: “They’re not allowed to use this shit.”
Then he got even more fired up: “Your behaviors—you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you are willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence,” he said to the students in the crowd. “And don’t think, ‘Oh yeah, not me, I’m fucking genius, I’m at Stanford.’ You’re probably the most likely to fucking fall for it. ‘Cause you are fucking check-boxing your whole Goddamn life.”
This article (Former Facebook Executive Warns Us: “You Don’t Realize It But You Are Being Programmed” (VIDEO)) was published by Thinking Humanity and here it is re-posted as a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.