A former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his “tremendous guilt” over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded “the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”
Chamath Palihapitiya began working for Facebook in 2007 and left in 2011 as its vice president for user growth. When he started, he said, there was not much thought given to the long-term negative consequences of developing such a platform.
“I think in the back, deep, deep recesses of our minds, we kind of knew something bad could happen,” said Palihapitiya, 41. “But I think the way we defined it was not like this.”
That changed as Facebook’s popularity exploded, he said. To date, the social network has more than 2 billion monthly users around the world and continues to grow.
But the ability to connect and share information so quickly – as well as the instant gratification people give and receive over their posts – has resulted in some negative consequences, according to Palihapitiya.
“It literally is a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are,” he said. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem.”
“Everybody else has to soul-search a little bit more about what you’re willing to do,” he said. “Because your behaviours, you don’t realise it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”
The problem is not isolated to Facebook, he said, citing other social-media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Palihapitiya pointed to a hoax in India that had spread through WhatsApp and led to the lynching of several men who were falsely accused of being child traffickers.
– Amy B Wang
Photo source – Flickr.com