Admitting that he and others who created Facebook knew that social media could have a detrimental effect on society, former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya opened up about the social media platform in an interview last month, saying, “I feel tremendous guilt.”
Interviewed in November at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Palihapitiya warned that social networks “are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works” after he revealed that social media pioneers knew “in the back recesses” of their minds “something bad could happen” with the platforms they created.
After more than a decade of Facebook and Twitter, questions have arisen regarding social media’s impact on today’s society.
“If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you,” stated Palihapitiya.
He explained how the “short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works” and “eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”
“No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth, and it is not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem,” he said. “We are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.”
Calling the reality of Facebook “fake, brittle popularity,” Palihapitiya said that the platform is actually leading people to “curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short-term signals: hearts, likes, thumbs-up. And we conflate that with value, and we conflate it with truth.”
He further pointed out that the benefits are short-term, leaving users even more vacant and empty than they were before going online.
“Because then you’re in this vicious cycle, like, what’s the next thing I need to do now because I need it back. Think about that compounded by two billion people, and then think about how people react then to the perceptions of others. It’s just a really bad thing, it’s really, really bad…,” he said. “You don’t realize it, but you are being programmed.”
Palihapitiya revealed he does not allow his own children to use social media.
The former Facebook leader’s assessment comes after Sean Parker, the company’s former president, also admitted that by design, their creation has turned into a monster bent on needlessly consuming everyone’s time.
“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” Parker said.
Palihapitiya went on to contend that Facebook was “a very different company” during his time there, which ended six years ago.
However, he said the platform’s basic design of incentivizing consumptive use by offering people short-term rewards that feed their emotional needs has not changed.
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