One of the co-founders of Facebook Sean Parker said he believes the world’s most popular social network was specifically designed to include potentially addictive features.
In an interview with Axios, Parker, who is also the founder of Napster, said he believes Facebook exploits “a vulnerability in human psychology.”
Parker went onto say the thought process that went on when Facebook was being created went something like this: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”
“And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever,” Parker said.
“And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you, you know, more likes and comments.”
Parker described this process as the “social-validation feedback loop.”
He said that this is “exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.
“The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark Zuckerberg, it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”
He then jokingly said that Mark Zuckerberg will probably block his account after reading his comments about Facebook.
“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’.
“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 2billion 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.”
Parker first rose to prominence when he created Napster, a music sharing service that allowed users to share files for free. However, it was later shut down after legal challenges from the music industry.
He was Facebook president for a year but left the organisation in 2005.
He was played by Justin Timberlake in the movie the Social Network which was released in 2010.
Today Parker no longer works in the tech industry, instead he runs a company that develops treatments for cancer.