Sean Parker: We Built Facebook to Exploit You


Facebook's founders knew they were creating something addictive that exploited "a vulnerability in human psychology" from the outset, according to the company's founding president Sean Parker.

In its first few years, Parker said that people would tell him that they didn't use social media, and he would assure them that they would join the fold sooner or later.

"It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other", he said in an interview published Wednesday night by Axios. "God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains".

The prominent Silicon Valley investor and philanthropist also recalled the thought process in building the social network, saying it was all about "How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?" From there, he said that the system of "likes" was based upon giving users "a little dopamine hit" in the form of friendly approval.

"So the default for seeing content on Facebook is not that we see it in any kind of of timeline, we don't see it as the most recent post, it gives you more content that you scroll through that then allows it to target more advertising at you", he told the ABC's PM program.

Parker, who has a net worth of over $2 billion, is not the only former Facebook employee to feel as if the company may be doing more harm than good.

It puts users under a "social-validation feedback loop", said Parker, something that "a hacker like myself would come up with".

"When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, "I'm not on social media.' And I would say, 'Okay, you know, you will be", he said.

Parker made his mark as an entrepreneur early: at 19, he founded the music-sharing service Napster. Or Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram, which Facebook owns.

"As Parker left the stage, he joked that Mark Zuckerberg was going to block his Facebook account. I value presence. I value intimacy.' And I would say, 'We'll get you eventually".

Parker has more recently invested in a cancer research center. And we did it anyway. A 2017 study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health, a United Kingdom -based health charity, found that people who use platforms such as Facebook and Instagram were more likely to have anxiety, depression and sleep issues. The three tech giants testified in marathon congressional hearings last week over the impact of social networks on last year's United States presidential election, and how Russian agents leveraged social media to sow discord among people.