Facebook backer likens ‘addictive’ social media to Nazi propaganda
AN EARLY investor in Facebook has compared the social network’s methods to those of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels and Edward Bernays, the “father of public relations” who promoted smoking for women.
Roger Mcnamee, who made a fortune from early backing of the social network, suggested Facebook and other technology giants like Google have substituted “phoney relationships for real relationships” and were not being held accountable.
He said: “In order to maintain your attention they have taken all the techniques of Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels, and all of the other people from the world of persuasion, and all the big ad agencies, and they’ve mapped it on to an all-day product with highly personalised information in order to addict you. We are all to one degree or another addicted.”
Mr Mcnamee is the latest in a series of tech investors to denounce what they see as the evils of social media but has previously commented that the people running the companies aren’t “terrible” people.
“I don’t think they are consciously doing bad things. I think what happened was they each adopted an advertising-based business model that essentially encouraged engagement,” Mcnamee said previously.
Sean Parker, the former president of Facebook, this week denounced the social network for “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology” and suggested it might be putting children’s mental health at risk.
Mr Mcnamee told The Daily Telegraph: “Many of these methods are the same as they use in casinos. The problem is the advertising business model. There are millions of things they can show you and they pick the 20 things most commercially valuable to them, and these are not designed to make you wiser, better educate or healthier.
“I think their moral compass is really heavily affected from the pervading culture in the US, which basically says people are not responsible for downstream consequences of their actions.”
He said, similar to tabloid newspaper wars dating back to the 19th century, “fear and anger” had become the predominant emotions on the social network. We have lowered the civil discourse, people have become less civil to each other.”
Mr Mcnamee said the tech giant had “weaponised” the First Amendment to “essentially absolve themselves of responsibility”. He added: “I say this as somebody who was there at the beginning.”
Mr Parker told Axios earlier this week: “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.
“The inventors, creators, understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”
Last month Justin Rosenstein, a former Facebook engineer who built a prototype of the network’s “like” button, called the creation the “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” and said he was limiting his own use of Facebook.
According to analysts emarketer, Facebook is expected to see a decline of 3.4per cent among teenage users in the US this year.
‘In order to maintain your attention they have taken all the techniques of Bernays and Goebbels’