Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker: Network 'Exploiting' Human Psychology

Ex-Facebook president Sean Parker says social media site exploits human weakness is its bid to 'consume as much time and conscious attention as possible'

Sean Parker, the visionary techno-elf who cofounded Napster and served as Facebook's first president, seems to have some regrets about building the social behemoth that's taken over our world, telling an audience this week, "God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains".

Parker, 38, spoke Wednesday at an Axios event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and while he was officially there to talk about efforts to advance cancer innovation, he apparently went off-script as he began to speak about his status as "something of a conscientious objector" to social media.

He says he's not too sure if he really comprehended the impact of social media at the time of its nascency and advent, arguing that there were so many potentially unforeseeable and unintended consequences of a network with users growing by the billions.

"It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other".

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He explained that when Facebook was being developed the objective was: "How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?"

Parker said Facebook's likes and comments were "a little dopamine hit", which encourages people to contribute more content to the site. The company achieved this by adding the "like" button or letting people comment on posts or pictures, with Parker calling these "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". Or Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram, which Facebook owns.

Calling himself "something of a conscientious objector" on social media, Parker said he was anxious about what social networks are doing to children's brains.

Parker left the stage joking that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would block his account after learning of his comments.

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Facebook reaches 2 billion people each month.

Parker was the company's first president and is now the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. The three tech giants testified in marathon congressional hearings last week over the impact of social networks on last year's USA presidential election, and how Russian agents leveraged social media to sow discord among people. "I value presence. I value intimacy.' And I would say, 'We'll get you eventually".

Parker's comments, though revelatory, come off as somewhat ironic, given that he has reaped billions off Facebook from being an early investor.

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