A former Facebook exec is sorry about fucking society up

He described Facebook likes as ‘short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Former vice-president for user growth at Facebook, Chamath Palihapitiya, said that he feels “tremendous guilt” for his contributions towards social media, which he calls “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”. Thanks for your thoughts, ex-FB exec rich off of our need for validation from ex-classmates and club promotors we met once in uni.

The comments were unearthed on Monday by The Verge from an event Palihapitiya spoke at in November. Palihapitiya said: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth”.

He added, “this is a global problem... it is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other”, saying that he can’t control Facebook but: “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 pleaded with the audience at Stanford Business School to check their own relationship with social media: “your behaviours, you don’t realise it, but you are being programmed” he said. “It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re going to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”

Palihapitiya is only the latest voice in growing scrutiny of both Facebook and social media generally. Just last month the company’s founding president Sean Parker said that the platform “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”, adding that when the site was developed the objective was: “how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”, adding, “it’s a social-validation feedback loop... exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

While Palihapitiya’s comments might seem a lil tinfoil-hat to a generation who has never known a life without jostling for validation, be it through Facebook likes or a space in your mate’s top eight, there’s some truth to the unhealthiness of the cycle of dopamine addiction we’re all trapped in – and more and more people our age are trying to cut down their time online.