Sean Parker, who was Facebook's founding president alongside its creator Mark Zuckerberg, has revealed how social media have been specifically created to prey on human weaknesses. While speaking Wednesday about cancer research during an Axios event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Parker said he has become "something of a conscientious objector" regarding social media.
There have been "unintended consequences", Parker said, now that Facebook has grown to include 2 billion people - two out of every seven people on the planet.
"It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other".
"God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains", he continued, pointing to a recent surge in anxiety "amongst high school kids and younger".
One of the building block decisions of these social media applications was, "How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?", said Parker. This, in turn, will get people to contribute more content, generate more Likes and comments (and so on).
Sean Parker revealed in a new interview posted Thursday that getting people to obsess about the social networking giant was a goal from the beginning.
Parker, speaking at an Axios event, pulled back the curtain on Facebook's early days, saying it was created to consume people.
Parker discussed the number of people that were against social media when Facebook first started, telling Parker that they'd never join the online world as they valued intimacy and living in the moment. It's "exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology". And we did it anyway.
He added that he, as well as Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, were well aware of the results that would be produced as a result of the constant social validation.
In a blog post, Facebook's chief security officer Alex Stamos wrote that "we will continue to invest in our people and technology to help provide a safe place for civic discourse and meaningful connections on Facebook". The comments are a little ironic given the billions Parker has made from being an early investor in Facebook. The three tech giants testified in marathon congressional hearings last week over the impact of social networks on last year's United States presidential election, and how Russian agents leveraged social media to sow discord among people.