Former Facebook Exec: Social Media Ripping Apart Social Fabric

Joanna Estrada
December 15, 2017

"The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we've created are destroying how society works", he said, adding that civil discourse and cooperation have given way to "misinformation and mistruths" packed into sound bites and emoticons.

In the past year, concerns about the company's role in the USA election and its capacity to amplify fake news have grown, while other reports have focused on how the social media site has been implicated in atrocities like the "ethnic cleansing" of Myanmar's Rohingya ethnic group. If Facebook is really just a tool, when was the last time you got this worked up using a rake or pair of scissors? Palihapitiya pointed to a hoax in India that had spread through WhatsApp and led to the lynching of several men who were falsely accused of being child traffickers.

In his talk, Palihapitiya criticized not only Facebook, but Silicon Valley's entire system of venture capital funding.

"You don't realize it but you are being programmed", said Palihapitiya. "And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want".

Meanwhile Roger McNamee, an early stage investor in Facebook, wrote in an USA Today op-ed comments about Facebook that were echoed later by Palihapitiya.

"It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other", Parker said.

He is not the only former Facebook executive to comment on effects of social media on society.

The Verge and the Post cite a former employee alleging Facebook "lies" about its influence on users, without citing the employee's reasoning or evidence.

"I don't know if I really understood the consequences", he said.

Mr. Palihapitiya lamented that social media users often conflate digital interactions like "hearts" and "likes" with value and truth, which leaves people feeling more "vacant and empty" than before they started. 'It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways.

"God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains", he told a crowd November 8 in Philadelphia.

Palihapitiya invested into Bitcoin in 2012, saying that he saw the price of the cryptocurrency rising massively in the next 20 years as more and more people adopt BTC. He resigned from the site in 2005 following a cocaine scandal. Facebook's Q3 net income was its best ever ($4.7bn against $2.6bn the year before) and Instagram tipped 800 million monthly users.

Facebook's founding president, Sean Parker, would agree with him, as the way Parker shared how the company is basically founded on the exploitation of "a vulnerability in human psychology". "And we did it anyway".

"We take our role very seriously and we are working hard to improve", Facebook's statement continued. "As Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder and current chairman and chief executive officer) said on the last earnings call, we are willing to reduce our profitability to make sure the right investments are made". We've done a lot of work and research with outside experts and academics to understand the effects of our service on well-being, and we're using it to inform our product development. The younger demographic had previously not been officially permitted on Facebook, though many joined anyway, skirting "the trivial measures preventing them from signing up".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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