Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society

Chamath Palihapitiya was one of Facebook’s early employees, joining the company in 2007 and eventually rising to become vice-president of user growth. He subsequently left Facebook, started a venture capital firm and bought an ownership stake in the Golden State Warriors.

He has also spoken on the record about his views on the danger of social media, not only for individuals but for society collectively. As an early member of the famous Facebook growth engine, he has tremendous insight into the psychology and “dopamine-driven feedback loops” that makes the product so ‘sticky’ (a tech euphemism for ‘addictive’).

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”

Chamath is also one of many tech insiders and executives (including Steve Jobs) who has publicly stated that he places restrictions on the smartphone and social media use of his children. In his own words: “I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that shit.”

Facebook is a product, a platform that because of its reach is having profound impacts on our society, many of which we are yet to understand. As a user it can keep you connected with friends, be a great source of information and a fun way to share content. It is not inherently bad or evil.

However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that there are potential side effects, and negative consequences of heavy use. The seriousness of these consequences is highlighted by the number of former employees making public statements. At the very least you should be making an informed, conscious decision about how you use the social network.

You can watch the whole video of Chamath’s chat at Stanford below, or read more about it here and here.

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