Yet another former Facebook executive has come forward to confess that he helped create a monster. Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and later became its vice president for user growth, said that he and the company’s founders “have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
The engineer-turned-investor added that he feels “tremendous guilt” for the impact Facebook has had on the world, and said that his kids don’t have profiles on the social network. “They’re not allowed to use this s–t,” he said.
Palihapitiya is the latest Facebook alum to admit regrets about their role building the company. Last month, Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, admitted he was “something of a conscientious objector” to the social networking giant.
Parker said Facebook is designed to exploit “a vulnerability in human psychology” to get its users addicted. Facebook “literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” Parker told Axios in early November. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
The bashing from Palihapitiya came at a talk given at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Palihapitiya admitted to the audience that he has been off Facebook and other social networks “for years.” He said that the way people interact on social networks — through likes and retweets and shares — have become a plague on the way people communicate with each other.
Palihapitiya added that he resents that Facebook programs its users behaviors, and makes them “give up … intellectual independence.” He said it has become a platform “where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything [they] want.” From fake news stories flooding feeds in the US, to dictatorial regimes in the Philippines, Turkey and Kenya using Facebook to target dissent, Facebook is lately catching heat for its role in politics worldwide.
“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,” he said. “And I don’t have a good solution. My solution is I just don’t use these tools anymore.” Palihaitiya said that when Facebook was still in its early stages, there were discussions about the sort of impact the platform could have.
“I think in the back, deep, deep recesses [of our minds], we kind of knew something bad could happen,” Palihapitiya said. “But I think the way we defined it was not like this.” “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he continued. “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.” (*Source: The New York Post dated December 11, 2017)