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Former Facebook executive says social media is ‘destroying how society works’

Social media giant’s ex-officer says he doesn’t allow his children to access the platform

tech Updated: Dec 12, 2017 15:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Facebook,Chamath Palihapitiya,Facebook Health
Are we stuck in short-term and dopamine-driven feedback loops?(AFP/Bloomua / Shutterstock.com)

Facebook’s former executive Chamath Palihapitiya believes social networking web platforms have destroyed how society functions.

Referring to Likes and reactions on status updates, Palihapitiya told a gathering of college students: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works.”

Palihapitiya was addressing an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business last month. The video of his address, however, surfaced online earlier this week. Palihapitiya had joined Facebook in 2007, early days of the social networking company.

“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,” he said, referring to Facebook’s alleged role in influencing the US Presidential Elections.

Palihapitiya also highlighted an incident in India where a hoax message on WhatsApp led to physical assault of several people.

“That’s what we’re dealing with. And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs,” said Palihapitiya while recommending people to take a break from the social networking platform.

He also disclosed that his children are not allowed to access the social networking platform while he himself tries to use Facebook as little as possible.

Palihapitiya, however, is not the only Facebook executive who has publicly acknowledged the adverse impact of the social networking platforms.

Last month, Sean Parker, an early investor in Facebook, said that the social media company is “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” Antonio Garcia-Martinez, another former Facebook employee, in his book Chaos Monkeys talks in length about actual power that Facebook possesses over user data and influence on them.

Just a few months ago, former Facebook software engineer Justin Rosenstein, removed all the applications from his phone, saying the social media was addictive as heroine. Ironically, Rosenstein is one of the brains behind Facebook’s iconic Like feature. He described Facebook Likes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure.”

First Published: Dec 12, 2017 15:17 IST