Facebook designed to exploit brain chemistry, former execs warned

(NY DAILY NEWS) – Months before the Cambridge Analytica scandal rocked Facebook, two ex-execs panned the platform as a danger to society.

In November, former Facebook President Sean Parker said the company’s founders designed the platform to be as addictive and time-consuming as possible.

“It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” Parker, the Napster founder who became a billionaire with Facebook, said at an Axios event in Philadelphia.

He said Facebook’s early designers recognized the importance of giving users “a little dopamine hit every once in a while” in the form of “likes” and comments.

“It’s a social-validation feedback loop,” he said, “exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

Later in the same month, former Facebook honcho Chamath Palihapitiya said he feels “tremendous guilt” over his work on the “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”

Palihapitiya, 41, was vice-president for user growth at Facebook before he left the company in 2011.

“If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you,” he said at the Stanford Business School event posted on YouTube.

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

“This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem,” he said. “It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”

He said he barely uses Facebook anymore and doesn’t allow his own children on the platform.

He described a future where “bad actors” are able to “manipulate large swaths of people to do anything (they) want.”

“You don’t realize it, but you are being programmed,” he said. “It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re going to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”

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