SEAN PARKER SAYS FACEBOOK DESIGNED BE ADDICTIVE, KILL CRITICAL THINKING
Former Facebook president Sean Parker claims that Facebook knowingly exploits “a vulnerability in human psychology” as its business model. Parker is making these statements even as the current investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling into the 2016 election proceeds, creating a more than tacit chain of logic that this “vulnerability” was key to Russia’s efforts. Sean Parker made these and other comments when speaking at an Axios event recently. In what should be as surprising as the cigarette industry’s knowledge of the connection between nicotine and addiction, these comments should prove a bit incendiary as the world begins to really look at the impact and organization of social media platforms like Facebook. It looks a lot like Facebook is a commercial tool to hack social groups, and our Democracy as a result.
FACEBOOK BUILT TO DELIVER ENDLESS, ADDICTIVE, MEANINGLESS CONTENT
Sean Parker painted a picture of an organized awareness on Facebook’s part as the company was consciously looking to be as strategic as they could be with the question, “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” The answer, which is clearly foundational for the platform, was to create a “social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with.” That sounds a lot like digital addiction, with continuous content being the be-all end-all for consumers, with the result being at least in part that distributed media impacts consumers with there being no value with its connection to reality.
SOCIAL MEDIA NOW A SELF-PERPETUAL MACHINE, CANNIBALIZING THE REAL INTO VIRTUAL FOR PROFIT
The loop includes Facebook users wanting to post their own content that their network then validates thru likes, making them want to post more and receive more validation. But that formula has serious pitfalls, as the former Facebook president who left in 2005 elaborated. “It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” Parker said. “It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
WILL THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION CHANGE REGULATIONS ON NEW MEDIA LIKE FACEBOOK?
This is playing out now in very awkward, but high stakes ways now in front of us. As U.S lawmakers continue to peel back the onion on how the internet played its role in the Kremlin’s efforts to both influence and undermine the election last year that culminated in Donald Trump’s victory, we will hear more and more about how Russians purchased in excess of 3,000 Facebook ads across 470 different accounts, creating 120 pages of content we know about so far and reaching a huge proportion of the voting public in America. These are numbers that were discussed by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, making this a very real issue, even though we don’t yet have any idea about what kind of traction the investigation will have, nor of what kind of teeth the results and penalties will include.
But the future of the Republic is clearly at stake, with old-fashioned spy craft and tactics being used to incredible effect by a hostile foreign power. And, of course, God only knows what platforms like Facebook are doing to our children’s brains. They will continue to be the future, and a great deal of their reality is provided by Facebook, with a dearth of factual priority.