PHILADELPHIA: Sean Parker, the billionaire founding president of Facebook, has strongly criticised the social network for “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology”.
The Facebook pioneer also described it as a “social-validation feedback loop” that the creators, such as himself and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, “understood consciously” but went ahead and “did it anyway”.
Parker, a former hacker who also founded the music-sharing site Napster, added that Facebook was “exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with”.
His candid comments, which he joked might prompt Zuckerberg to block him on Facebook, were made backstage at an event organised by news portal Axios last week.
Speaking to Axios reporter Mike Allen, he revealed that he has now become “something of a conscientious objector” when it comes to social media and that one of the unintended consequences of a network that has grown to up to two billion people is that it “literally changes your relationship with society”.
“It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he said.
“The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, ... was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’,” he added.
“And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever.”
Parker, who has now left the tech industry and works for his own cancer research organisation, is not the only social media entrepreneur who has since voiced misgivings about where the technology is taking society.
Justin Rosenstein, the software engineer who invented Facebook’s iconic “Like” button in 2007, told the Guardian last month that he feared social media is having a “detrimental effect on people’s cognitive ability”.
“It is very common for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences,” he said.
Sourced from Axios; additional content by WARC staff