“Social networks are tearing society apart,” says a former executive of Facebook

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A former senior Facebook executive has chanted mea culpa for his contribution to the development of tools that, in his opinion, “are tearing apart the social fabric”. Chamath Palihapitiya, who worked at Mark Zuckerberg’s company from 2007 to 2011 and who became its vice president of user growth, believes that “the short-term feedback loops driven by the dopamine that we have created are destroying the functioning of the society, without civil discourses, without cooperation, with misinformation, with falsehood. ”

Palihapitiya made these statements about addiction to social networks and its effects in a forum of the Stanford Business School on November 10, but the technology website The Verge has collected them on Monday and, through it, newspapers like The Guardian. Palihapitiya, which once worked to increase the number of people using social networks, recommended that its audience take a “break” in its use.

He clarified that he did not speak only about the United States and the Russian intoxication campaigns on Facebook. “It is a global problem, it is eroding the fundamental foundations of how people behave towards each other and each other,” he said, adding that he feels “a great guilt” for having worked on Facebook. He talked about how human interactions are being limited to hearts and thumbs up and how social networks have led to a serious lack of lack of “civil discourse”, misinformation and falsehood.

In the talk, Palihapitiya, now founder and CEO of Social Capital, from which he finances companies in sectors such as health and education, declared himself a kind of conscientious objector of the use of social networks and announced that he wants to use the money that won on Facebook to do good in the world. “I can not control [Facebook] but I can control my decision, which is that I do not use that shit, I can also control the decisions of my children, who can not use that shit,” he said, to clarify that it has not been deleted. all of the networks but that does try to use them as little as possible.

The former senior Facebook official warned that people’s behaviors are being programmed without their noticing. “Now you have to decide how much you are going to resign,” he added. Palihapitiya made reference to what happened in the Indian state of Jharkhand last May, when false messages from WhatsApp about the presence of alleged kidnappers of children ended with the lynching of seven innocent people. “This is what we are facing,” Palihapitiya criticized, adding that this case “taken to extremes” implies that criminals “can manipulate large groups of people to do what they want”.


But Palihapitiya not only censured the effects of networks on how society works, but the entire operating system of Silicon Valley. In his opinion, investors inject money into “stupid, useless and idiotic companies”, instead of addressing real problems such as climate change and curable diseases.

Palihapitiya’s criticism of the networks is in addition to those of Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, who criticized the way in which the company “exploits a vulnerability in human psychology” by creating a “social validation feedback loop”. In addition, a former product manager of the company, Antonio García-Martínez, accused Facebook of lying about its ability to influence people based on the data it collects from them, and wrote a book, Chaos Monkeys, about its work in the company. In the last year, there has been growing concern about the power of Facebook, its role in US elections and its ability to amplify false news.

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