Ex-Facebook President On Social Media: ‘You’re Exploiting A Vulnerability In Human Psychology’

Left: Mark Zuckerberg [REUTERS/Albert Gea] Right: Sean Parker (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Global Citizen)

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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Sean Parker, famous tech entrepreneur and founding president of Facebook, says he’s worried about the pervasiveness and perpetually-growing power of social media companies.

“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 told Axios in an interview. “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.”

Parker considers himself “something of a conscientious objector” when it comes to social media, having been an original leader in the industry, and now a critic.

He says he’s not too sure if he really comprehended the impact of social media at the time of its nascency and advent, arguing that there were so many potentially unforeseeable and unintended consequences of a network with users growing by the billions.

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

Nevertheless, he describes how he once tried to get as many people as possible to use Facebook’s platform. Parker said people initially resisted, but knew they would join eventually.

“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,” Parker said.

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

Parker, the 37-year-old founder of Napster, focuses a lot of his time nowadays running his eponymous Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. He’s also a political activist, having donated $100,000 to Proposition 19 in California, a campaign to legalize marijuana in the state, among other initiatives.

A number of people with varying political affiliations and from all walks of life have steadily started to come out with their respective reservations and even condemnations of big tech companies, like social media firms. But criticism coming directly from one of the people that contributed to its rise shows that the general outlook of Silicon Valley and social media is souring fast.

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