The Facebook social networking website is designed to prey on a psychological “vulnerability,” the company’s former president recently warned.
Speaking at an Axios event Wednesday, Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, said the app used by over two billion people around the world takes advantage of human psychology and the need for social-validation, and is possibly re-wiring human 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 said.
The billionaire also revealed the company proceeded with their exploitation of the human mind despite signs the website altered one’s “relationship with society,” and could be negatively affecting children.
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“I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and … it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other … It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
The app, Parker explained, plays off human psychological needs, effectively exploiting a feedback loop every time a person’s content receives likes, shares or comments, encouraging them to use the app more frequently.
“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.”
While Facebook developers and creators, including company CEO Mark Zuckerberg, were aware of the website’s potential to essentially control one’s mind, Parker says they did nothing to change it.
“The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”
Parker now heads up a cancer research institute and claims he’s become a social media “conscientious objector.”