Social media is “ripping apart society”, says former Facebook executive

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A former Facebook executive has said social media is “destroying how society works” and that he admits to “tremendous guilt” about his work in the early days of what has now become the world’s most popular social media platform.

Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 before leaving in 2011 and was one of the company’s earliest executives, accused it of “programming” users and said he no longer uses the website and does not allow his children to use it.

“They’re not allowed to use this s–t,” he said.

Speaking to students at Stanford University, Mr Palihapitiya said: “It literally is at a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.

“We are in a really bad state of affairs right now in my opinion, it is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”

“I feel tremendous guilt,” Mr Palihapitiya add.

“I think we all knew in the back of our minds, even though we feigned this whole line of ‘there probably aren’t any really bad unintended consequences’, I think in the deep deep recesses of our minds we kind of knew something bad could happen.

“People need to hard break from some of these tools and the things that you rely on, the short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we created are destroying how society works, no civil discourse, no-co operation, misinformation and mistruth.

“We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short term signals, hearts and likes and thumbs up. We conflate that with value and we conflate that with truth, and instead what it really is is fake brittle popularity that’s short term and leaves you even more vacant and empty.”

Mr Palihapitiya is the latest former Facebook executive to express regret about their role in helping to build Facebook.

Last month, the company’s first president, Sean Parker, spoke out against the social networking giant.

Parker accused Facebook of “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology”.

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