By Dorothy Thompson
It’s all over the headlines “FACEBOOK IS ‘RIPPING APART SOCIETY”. This in not my claim, it is being said by the very people who created it. Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive, said during a November interview at Stanford that social networks were “destroying how society works.”
Other early Facebook executives have criticised the company in recent weeks as well.
Chamath Palihapitiya, said in an interview at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business that social media was damaging society.
The November talk, which was picked up by The Verge on Monday, is another example of early Facebook executives criticising what they created.
Palihapitiya said a lot during the interview about Facebook’s effect on society, but here’s the money quote:
“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem. So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.”
Palihapitiya also said that people building Facebook in the early days knew in the back of their minds that the platform could be abused but ignored their instincts.
“I feel tremendous guilt,” Palihapitiya said. “In the back, deep, deep recesses of our mind, we kind of knew something bad could happen.”
Watch the full interview:
Additionally Sean Parker, Chamath Palihapitiya – Facebook is ‘Ripping Apart Society watch the interview:
In response Mark Zuckerberg has announced an annual personal challenge, from slaughtering his own meat to learning Mandarin to building his own artificial intelligence. His 2018 task may be the most ambitious yet: Fix Facebook.
In a Facebook post that highlights his company’s mounting difficulties, Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook has made “too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools.”
The Facebook chief executive, a self-described optimist about technology, said promising tools like encryption and cryptocurrency could help counter concerns about the growing power of tech giants, but added that they, too, carried risks that needed to be deliberated.
“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent,” Mr Zuckerberg wrote. “My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues.”
The goal shows how starkly Facebook’s situation has changed. In January 2017, even as criticism was growing about Facebook’s role in spreading fake news and divisiveness during the US presidential election, he unveiled plans for a series of trips across the country to talk to Americans about their lives and work. The tour sparked speculation that Mr Zuckerberg might want to run for president.
Now Mr Zuckerberg is focused on addressing a mountain of risks that threaten to damage the company he co-founded in 2004 as a service for Harvard University students. Today, more than two billion people log into Facebook every month and it is one of the world’s most valuable and influential companies power that is now drawing enormous scrutiny.
Over the past 18 months, Facebook has been lambasted for allowing objectionable content, including violent live videos, and fabricated news articles to proliferate on its service.
Late last year, Facebook lurched into crisis mode after disclosing that Russia-backed entities used its platform and advertising tools to spread divisive messages to disrupt the 2016 US presidential campaign. This admission sparked a rare set of hearings on Washington’s Capitol Hill during which politicians grilled officials from Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google.
In response to several former Facebook executives and employees have expressed remorse for helping build a platform that they said was designed to foster dependence on Facebook. Those comments eventually prompted Facebook to acknowledge that certain types of social-media use could be harmful to users’ mental health.
Mr Zuckerberg said in a recent post that the current national mood resembles that of 2009, when he mounted his first personal challenge by wearing a tie every day. At the time, the US economy was in the midst of recession and Facebook, then five years old, wasn’t profitable.
“It was a serious year, and I wore a tie every day as a reminder,” Mr Zuckerberg wrote. “Today feels a lot like that first year.”
Many people have lost confidence in tech giants’ ability to level the playing field, he said.
Facebook in particular has gained a reputation for being ruthless in its desire to squash its rivals.
“With the rise of a small number of big tech companies and governments using technology to watch their citizens many people now believe technology only centralises power rather than decentralises it,” Mr Zuckerberg wrote.
It would seem that Mr Zuckerberg’s latest mission lacks the same kind of concrete goals as prior challenges, which also generally have skewed more toward individual development, such as his 2015 promise to read a new book every two weeks.
It isn’t clear what it would take for his 2018 personal challenge to be met and a Facebook spokesman didn’t respond to a request for more information.
Mr Zuckerberg said the current issues facing the company touched on subjects like “history, civics, political philosophy, media, government, and of course technology.” He added that he would be “bringing groups of experts together to discuss and help work through these topics,” but didn’t specify the goal of those conversations or whom he would invite.
“If we’re successful this year then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory,” he wrote.