Facebook’s Founder: Platform Built for ‘Dopamine’ Hits to Brain

Facebook’s Founder: Platform Built for ‘Dopamine’ Hits to Brain

It’s hard to ignore the comments about social media coming from one of the founders of  Facebook, Sean Parker, in a recent interview with Axios’s Mike Allen.

He’s become a “conscientious objector” about social media. We’ll take that to mean he deploys less of it on a daily basis because of how addictive it is.

For parents worried about their kids getting too “high” off dopamine hits to their brains with each FB like and comment,  Parker’s video (posted below) about the kind of psychology he and his co-horts exploited when they created the platform, is a must-watch.

Axios’ Allen writes of Parker’s recall of the early FB days:

Parker’s I-was-there account provides priceless perspective in the rising debate about the power and effects of the social networks, which now have scale and reach unknown in human history. He’s worried enough that he’s sounding the alarm.”

“Parker, 38, now founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, spoke yesterday at an Axios event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, about accelerating cancer innovation. In the green room, Parker mentioned that he has become “something of a conscientious objector” on social media.”

Not to say I don’t enjoy connecting with friends and making new ones on FB in ways that have enriched my life. But he speaks for many of us who see social media as a modern day reality distortion field that has an undue influence on what we see and consume, which is an influence all its own.

Other Parker quotes that caught my eye:

“When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, ‘I’m not on social media.’ And I would say, ‘OK. You know, you will be.’ And then they would say, ‘No, no, no. I value my real-life interactions. I value the moment. I value presence. I value intimacy.’ And I would say, … ‘We’ll get you eventually.'”

And did they ever, up to some 2 billion around the world who are on the FB platform today, according to the site.

The idea that, if you’re not “on” FB (sounds like a drug, doesn’t it?), they will “get you eventually” — like a drug dealer who gives it away until you’re hooked (I’ll stop). It has the feel of this:  Resistance is futile. You will join the rest of the world on the platform or be left behind as a social outcast, or something.

This is why we see the growing power of Facebook — and Google for that matter  — eventually coming under pressure from Congress over how they influence the news and information so vital to a healthy, open society.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s politics are classic Silicon Valley left-liberal views that raise the question of whether it is “putting the thumb on the scale” of how it weights trending topics and news, as Sen. Ted Cruz, a conservative leader, framed the issue recently.

Axios, in another report that ensures they carved ownership of this ongoing issue, says Silicon Valley has a guilty conscience about the addictive nature of their platforms. They note some examples, including a link to a recent 60-minutes report describing how Google engineers its apps to get us good and hooked.

Despite all this tech wizardry, are Facebook and Google really tech companies anymore? When they deploy their own black-box algorithms to decide what type of news we consume while logged into their platforms, aren’t they are acting as media companies that happen to deploy it with Web 3.0 technology?

The other quote that jumps off the page:

“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. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

Article and video are here.

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