File photo: A 3D printed Facebook like-button is to see it in front of the Facebook logo, in this picture-October 25, 2017. (REUTERS/dado Ruvic)
Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive and the director of venture capital firm Social Capital, said in a November interview that social media is harmful for the society and concern had been expressed about the impact on his own children.
In November, an interview at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Palihapitiya, a co-owner of the Golden State Warriors, said he is “a huge debt” for the building up of Facebook into the behemoth it is today. Palihapitiya joined the company in 2007 as vice president for the growth of the user, three years after it was founded in a Harvard dorm room of Mark Zuckerberg.
“I think we all knew in our mind, although we feigned this whole line of ‘unintended consqeuences,” I think in the back recesses of our minds, something bad could happen,” Palihapitiya said. “It is literally at a point that we now have a number of tools that can rip apart the social fabric of how society works. That is literally where we are. I would encourage all of you how this process is – if you feed the beast, the beast will destroy you.”
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Palihapitiya added that the use of social media is becoming dangerous for the society:
“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created for the destruction of how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth. And it is not an American problem. This is not about the Russian ads. This is a global problem. So we are in a very bad state of affairs now, in my opinion. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave, by and between each other.”
He said that he rarely or never makes use of Facebook, places maybe twice in seven years, something that has caused “major problems” in his own social circles. He also added that he did not want his own children.
Here is the full interview, which was first spotted by The Verge:
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Fox News has reached Facebook for comment, but the company told The Telegraph that Facebook is a very different company than it was when Palihapitiya worked there and it recognizes its responsibilities have grown as the company has.
Palihapitiya is just the latest former Facebook exec and explicit attention to how the company has changed the social structure of how society works.
Last month, Sean Parker, who co-founded the music streaming service Napster before joining Facebook as its chairman, said that he was worried about what it is doing to children’s brains.
“I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I said, 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 the society, with each other … It probably interferes with the productivity in weird ways,” Parker said in an interview with Axios’ Mike Allen. “God only knows what it does to our children in the brain.”
Another former Facebook employee and creator of the “like” button, engineer Justin Rosenstein, said that he thinks that his invention is a contribution to “time badly spent.”
Snap — the company that is the owner of the Snaphat — also recently criticized on social media, with its CEO Evan Spiegel recently said social media has led to the rise of “fake news.”
Both Parker and Palihapitiya have moved to areas where they are trying to be more social than just building another social network. Parker is now the founder and president of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. Palihapitiya of Social Capital focuses on the financing of companies in sectors such as healthcare and education, in addition to areas such as missile technology and 3-D printing.
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More harm than good?
The comments come after a time of increasing resistance to comapnies in Silicon Valley, and Facebook in particular, are under control for the role that it played during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In September, Facebook reported that the Russian workers paid $100,000 in fraudulent ad-expenditure of the organizations with ties to the Russian government. Separately, Twitter, and Google have also discovered ad spending by Russian agents.
The Russian government and a number of the players linked have since denied the allegations.
In spite of this, as well as the comments that he made after 2016 elections, saying that he thought it was “a rather crazy idea” that Facebook was responsible for infleuncing the election of the results of Zuckerberg has asked for “forgiveness” for the ways his “work was used to divide people.”
He also has Facebook’s mission last summer, says the company’s new goal is “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia