Ex-Facebook exec says it was designed to be addictive
The Facebook founders purposefully created something addictive, the social network’s first president told Axios in an interview.
“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” Sean Parker said in the interview published Thursday.
With each like and comment, Facebook is “exploiting” human psychology on purpose to keep users hooked on a “social-validation feedback loop,” Parker said, adding that it is “exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with.”
Parker, the billionaire Napster co-founder who later served as Facebook’s founding president, made the comments at an Axios event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Speaking to Axios’ Mike Allen, Parker called himself “something of a conscientious objector.”
“I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because (of) the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and ... it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other . ... It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways,” Parker said.
When helping Facebook get off the ground in 2004, Parker said, he and others involved in the nascent social network thought: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”
“And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you ... more likes and comments.”
Although Facebook is a social networking site, it also has immense impact as an advertising platform and news distributor, reaching 2 billion people each month.
The company has made headlines recently with revelations that it sold ads during the U.S. presidential campaign to a Russian firm tied to pro-Kremlin propaganda. The more than 3,000 Russian-bought ads sought to influence different voters based on their political and demographic characteristics, The Washington Post reported.
According to Axios, Parker joked that Zuckerberg would block him on Facebook after reading what he said.
Sean Parker, former president of Facebook, says the social network is addictive through “social-validation.”