When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you do? Do you check your phone for texts and emails? Perhaps you then open the Facebook app without even thinking about it and begin scrolling. Before you know it, 20 minutes has passed by and now you’re late.
It happens to many Americans, and others around the world. Social media is addicting. Here’s a secret: the creators knew that it was something people would be addicted to!
An early investor in Facebook claims that the founders of the social media site knew exactly what they were creating when they did it. Sean Parker said, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
He has become a “conscientious objector” on social media, even though he still maintains a presence on Twitter and Facebook. (He is currently the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.)
Parker says the social networking site exploits human psychological vulnerabilities through a validation feedback loop that gets people to constantly post to get even more likes and comments.
That makes perfect sense. People have a need for attention, and the networking site does just that.
“It’s 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, “The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”
So think Facebook like junk food. You know it’s bad for you, but you eat it anyway. We are addicted to it.
He claims when they built the site, they actually used this question as a guideline: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”
Public sentiment is also turning against Facebook, hit by issues surrounding fake news and Russian election posts that reached 126 million people. A recent deep dive by The Vergeinto technology companies found Facebook to be one of the most divisive. More people say they distrust it more than Amazon, Google, Apple, or Microsoft, though a majority of people said they would still care very much if Facebook went away.
“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,” Parker concluded.
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