Cellphones, computers and social media have been clinically shown to be highly addictive and all the more so in combination with each other. This is by now pretty obvious to anyone who’s taken a moment to look up from their own phone while in a public space to see everybody else eerily engrossed in their own phones. The dopamine released in the brain while interacting with these devices is the same as that of a hardcore drug addict’s responding to its fix.
Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Vice-President of User Growth at Facebook says he feels “tremendous guilt” over the work he did while there. Speaking at a Stanford Business School event in November he said, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.
“This is not about Russian ads,” he added, referring to the Russiagate investigation, in which Facebook was accused of allowing Russian advertisers to throw the 2016 Presidential Election (as if!) “This is a global problem. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”
Palihapitiya joins a growing chorus of former Facebook executives voicing strong warnings about the platform, including ex-Facebook president Sean Parker, who criticized the way that the company “exploit[s] a vulnerability in human psychology” by creating a “social-validation feedback loop.”
“I can’t control [Facebook],” Palihapitiya said. “I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use [it]. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use [it].”