Facebook exploits human weakness and is intentionally addictive, ex-president says

Gwen Vasquez
November 12, 2017

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. "It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways", Parker is quoted as saying. God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains ...

"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?'" Parker added. Users post something, they get comments and likes, and they post more. So as to get people spending more time on these social networks. That's because people like him, Mark Zuckerberg, and Kevin Systrom (co-founder of Instagram) found the bugs in the human brain.

The tech investor, also a co-founder of Napster and, perhaps most recognizably, the guy played by Justin Timberlake in "The Social Network", said Facebook was created to exploit the way people fundamentally think and behave.

Parker, speaking at an Axios event, pulled back the curtain on Facebook's early days, saying it was created to consume people. At 24, he became the founding president of Facebook. "We'll get you eventually".

Parker also shed light on the Facebook's early ethos and outlook.

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These days Parker is the founder of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and, in this capacity, he spoke yesterday at an Axios event on the topic of the fight to cure cancer. He described the system of users posting content and receiving likes as "a social-validation feedback loop ... exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology".

Calling himself "something of a conscientious objector" on social media, Parker said he was anxious about what social networks are doing to children's brains.

With all of these highly-revealing comments now available to the public, he joked that Zuckerberg will probably suspend his Facebook account. And we did it anyway.

In a blog post, Facebook's chief security officer Alex Stamos wrote that "we will continue to invest in our people and technology to help provide a safe place for civic discourse and meaningful connections on Facebook". "Perhaps it's just wistful thinking on my part, but it seems to me that it's Zuckerberg who should be anxious that more and more people might start carrying out this blocking all on their own", he commented on his blog.

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