Sean Parker, the former president of Facebook, slammed the creators of the ubiquitous social media giant for knowingly “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
“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’ Mike Allen in an interview on Wednesday.
“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,” he said. “And that’s going to get you to contribute more content … It’s a social-validation feedback loop.”
Tellingly, Parker said that Mark Zuckerberg and other social-media pioneers were aware of this phenomenon from the outset. “The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark, it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously,” he said. “And we did it anyway.”
Not all of the effects of creating giant social networks were conscious, Parker admitted, noting the “unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people.”
“It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” said Parker, who now chairs the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. “It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”