Former Facebook exec criticizes social media in expletive-laden rant: ‘You are being programmed’

Former Facebook exec criticizes social media in expletive-laden rant: ‘You are being programmed’
A former Facebook executive delivered a speech excoriating social media and accusing it of tearing apart the fabric of society. He suggested that people take a "hard break" from social networking. (Getty Images)

Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive, delivered a speech accusing the social network of “ripping apart” the fabric of society.

What did he say?

Palihapitiya, Facebook’s former vice president for user growth, aired his grievances during a talk at the Stanford Graduate School of Business last month. During the address, he admitted that he felt a “tremendous guilt” in helping to amass users on the social networking site.

“We have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” Palihapitiya told the attending audience.

He suggested that people take a “hard break” from social networking — which he described as “short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops” — at large.

Palihaptitya also told the audience that filters of illusion contribute to curating “lives around this perceived sense of perfection” in exchange for rewards. Those rewards, Palihaptitya explained, are “short-term signals” such as “hearts, likes,” and “thumbs up.”

“We conflate that with value and we conflate it with truth, and instead, what it really is is fake, brittle popularity that’s short term and leaves you even more vacant and empty before you did it,” Palihaptitya added.

Palihaptitya claims to no longer use social media.

“I don’t have a good solution,” Palihaptitya admitted. “My solution is I just don’t use these tools anymore. I haven’t for years.”

As for his own children, “They’re not allowed to use this s**t.”

Palihapitiya’s language grew more colorful as his speech became more impassioned.

“Your behaviors — you don’t realize it but you are being programmed,” he added. “It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you are willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”

“And don’t think, ‘Oh yeah, not me, I’m f***ing genius, I’m at Stanford,'” he mocked. “You’re probably the most likely to f***ing fall for it, ’cause you are f***ing check-boxing your whole God**** life.”

(Content warning: Rough language):

Is there more?

Palihapitiya isn’t the only former Facebook executive to take aim at the social media giant.

Former Facebook President Sean Parker told Axios in November that he believes social networking is changing the way humans relate to one another and is doing great damage in its ever-expanding wake.

“It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” Parker said. “It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

Palihapitiya’s comments echoed those of Parker, who also said that social media gives users “a little dopamine hit every once in awhile.”

“It’s a social validation feedback loop,” Parker explained.