Facebook’s founding president Sean Parker has spoken of his regrets about the power and reach of social media. Speaking to Mike Allen from Axios Parker described how he had no idea what he was doing when he helped build Facebook.
In his Oppenheimer moment Parker said of social media: “God only knows what it is doing to our children’s brains.”
What did he say?
Calling himself a “conscientious objector” Parker is clearly suffering a few prangs of remorse on getting people hooked on social media.
But the addictive element of Facebook was a fundamental component of its development. Something which Parker acknowledges. He said: “The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’
“And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever.
“And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you more likes and comments.
“It’s a social-validation feedback loop. Exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
Who is Sean Parker?
He’s a billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist. So he’s doing alright for himself.
As well as been the founding president of Facebook he also helped establish Napster, Plaxo and Aitime.com amongst others. He is also the chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.
Justin Timberlake played Parker in the movie Social Network.
Who’s sorry now?
But it’s Facebook’s impact on society which is irking Parker. He said: “I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or two billion people it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other.”
Social media addicts should take note of Parker’s sage advice. When asked about his use of social media he said: “I use these platforms. I don’t let these platforms use me.” Profound.