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Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart

Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president of user growth, expressed regret for his part in building tools that destroy the social fabric of how society works

A former Facebook executive has said he feels” tremendous guilt” over his work on” tools that are rending apart the social fabric of how civilization works”, joining a growing chorus of critics of the social media giant.

Chamath Palihapitiya, who was vice-president for user growing at Facebook before he left the company in 2011, said:” The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how civilization runs. No civil discourse , no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth .”

The remarks, who the hell is made at a Stanford Business School event in November, can only be surfaced by tech website the Verge on Monday.

” This is not about Russian ads ,” he added.” This is a world difficulty. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between one another .”

Palihapitiya’s comments last month were made a period after Facebook’s founding chairperson, Sean Parker, blamed the style that the company” exploit[ s] a vulnerability in human psychology” by creating a” social-validation feedback loop” during an interview at an Axios event.

Parker had said that he was ” something of a conscientious objector” to using social media, a stance echoed by Palihapitaya who said that he was now hoping to use the money he made at Facebook to do good in the world.

” I can’t control them ,” Palihapitaya said of his former employer.” I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that shit. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that shit .”

He also called on his audience to “soul-search” about their own are relevant to social media.” Your behaviors, you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed ,” he said.” It was unintentional, but now you gotta choose how much you’re going to give up, how much of your intellectual freedom .”

Facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Lima. The social media giant has faced increasing criticism for its power to polarize. Photo: Ernesto Benavides/ AFP/ Getty Images

Social media companies have faced increased scrutiny over the past year as critics increasingly relate developing political divisions across the globe to the handful of platforms that predominate online discourse.

Many commentators attributed the unexpected outcomes of the 2016 US presidential election and Brexit referendum at the least in part to the ideological echo enclosures created by Facebook’s algorithms, as well as the spread of fake news, conspiracy mongering, and propaganda alongside legitimate news sources in Facebook’s news feeds.

The company most recently acknowledged that it sold circulars to Russian operatives seeking to sow divide among US voters during the 2016 election.

Facebook has also faced significant criticism for its role in amplifying anti-Rohingya propaganda in Myanmar amid suspected ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority.

Palihapitiya referenced a example from the Indian country of Jharkhand this spring, when false WhatsApp messages warning of a group of kidnappers led to the lynching of 7 people. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook.

“That’s what we’re dealing with,” Palihapitiya said.” Imagine when you take that to the extreme where bad actors can now manipulate big swaths of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, real bad state of affairs .”

Facebook responded to Palihapitiya’s comments on Tuesday , noting further that the former executive had not worked for the company in six years.

” When Chamath was at Facebook we were focused on building new social media experiences and developing Facebook around the world ,” a company spokeswoman, Susan Glick, said in a statement.” Facebook was a very different company back then, and as we have grown, we have realise how our responsibilities have grown too. We take our role very seriously and we are working hard to improve .”

The company said that it was researching the impact of its products on “well-being” and noted that the CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, indicated a willingness to decrease profitability to address issues such as foreign interference in elections.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ technology/ 2017/ dec/ 11/ facebook-former-executive-ripping-society-apart

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