Former Facebook President Sean Parker told Axios on Wednesday that he’s become a “conscientious objector” on social media. He said he believes social networking is changing the way we relate to one another and doing damage in its ever-expanding wake.
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.”
What did Parker say?
Parker, who is now founder and chairman of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, told Allen:
I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying [in promoting social media], 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 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?” he added.
Parker explained, “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. … It’s a social validation feedback loop.”
He added that he, as well as Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, were well aware of the results that would be produced as a result of the constant social validation.
“The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark, it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously,” Parker admitted. “And we did it anyway.”