Former Facebook Executive Says Social Media Exploits Human 'Vulnerability'

Former Facebook Executive Says Social Media Exploits Human 'Vulnerability'

Former Facebook Executive Says Social Media Exploits Human 'Vulnerability'

Former Facebook president and billionaire Sean Parker has lashed out against the social network and social media in general, pondering what the ramifications of it might be years down the road.

Facebook is "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology" by giving users "a little dopamine hit every once in awhile" in the form of likes, comments and shares.

Parker says that the thought process when building Facebook was to figure out "how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?"

Referencing Facebook's fledgling early days, Parker recalled some early resistance he encountered to the idea of sharing one's most intimate - some would even say trivial - personal details with the rest of the world.

"I don't know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying", he added, pointing to "unintended consequences" that arise when a network grows to have more than 2 billion users.

"It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways", he continued. "God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains", he said.

But that didn't matter to people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, he said.

Parker said that he and people like Zuckerberg realized they could keep their users engaged by "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology" and creating 'a social-validation feedback loop'.

Parker's backing was instrumental in turning the Harvard campus-only software into a global phenomenon by introducing Zuckerberg to Silicon Valley venture capital.

Axios writer Mike Allen wrote, "Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, gave me a candid insider's look at how social networks purposely hook and potentially hurt our brains". You know, you will be.' And then they would say, 'No, no, no.

"As Parker left the stage, he joked that Mark Zuckerberg was going to block his Facebook account".

"When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, "I'm not on social media.' And I would say, 'Okay, you know, you will be", he said. In the early going, Parker said people would come up to him and boast about not being on social media because they value their real-life interactions and the intimacy of communication with others in person. He wasn't charged, but the arrest rattled investors and he resigned shortly after.

His stint at Facebook had its financial rewards, however, with his net worth now reputed to be more than US$2.6 billion. Now he's the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

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