Facebook Hits Back At Former Exec Who Said Company Is ‘Ripping Apart The Social Fabric’ Of Society

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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Facebook directly responded Tuesday to harsh criticisms levied by a former executive, specifically that the social media platform is “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”

Chamath Palihapitiya rehashed arguments Monday that Facebook, and social media in general, exploits vulnerabilities in the human mind by creating tools that feed into “short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops,” according to CNBC.

“I feel tremendous guilt,” Palihapitiya, former vice president of user growth, previously told a crowd at Stanford Business School. “I think we all knew in the back of our minds … we kind of knew something bad could happen.”

Facebook countered Tuesday, and explained that the company has changed drastically since Palihapitiya was employed there.

“Chamath has not been at Facebook for over six years,” a company representative told CNBC. “When Chamath was at Facebook we were focused on building new social media experiences and growing Facebook around the world. Facebook was a very different company back then and as we have grown we have realized how our responsibilities have grown too.”

Palihapitiya appears to be one of the first former employees Facebook has directly reacted to.

Sean Parker, famous tech entrepreneur and founding president of Facebook, said in November that he’s worried about the ever-growing influence of social media companies, even using the same biochemical analysis.

“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 a November 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 described himself as “something of a conscientious objector,” a title that could aptly apply to Palihapitiya, and others as well.

A number of other “whistleblowers” have voiced their deep-seated concerns. Roger McNamee, a venture capitalist who invested in Facebook early on, indirectly echoed similar Park’s sentiments, asserting that Facebook doesn’t care about users’ privacy. (RELATED: Facebook Gets Hit With Another Fine For Collecting Data On Users)

“For them to look for pictures of you everywhere they can find them and identify everything you’re doing? Did you actually sign up for that?” McNamee said. “Do you even know — does any of us know — what’s in the user agreement?”

And a former Facebook operations manager wrote an op-ed for The New York Times called “We Can’t Trust Facebook to Regulate Itself,” which detailed arguments for government intervention in the social media marketplace.

Facebook didn’t directly address some of these respectively serious accusations.

Justin Osofsky, vice president of Global Operations, however, did write a blog post detailing how it protects people’s data, while saying they’ve “seen allegations” of some sort.

“While it’s fair to criticize how we enforced our developer policies more than five years ago, it’s untrue to suggest we didn’t or don’t care about privacy,” said Osofsky. “The facts tell a different story.” (RELATED: BuzzFeed Wants You To Fear Facebook’s Algorithms)

Palihapitiya was sure to add that Facebook “made” him, and that he owes “those guys everything,” according to CNBC.

Facebook did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for further detail by time of publication.

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