Sean Parker: Facebook Exploits Human 'Vulnerability'


"God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains", Parker said. Parker joined Facebook in 2004, when the company was known as "TheFacebook" and was exclusively the domain of college students.

The tech investor, also a co-founder of Napster and, perhaps most recognizably, the guy played by Justin Timberlake in "The Social Network", said Facebook was created to exploit the way people fundamentally think and behave. He said it's all by design, because receiving a "like" or a comment on your post gives you a little hit of dopamine. "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 also went on to call the social media giant "a social-validation feedback loop" that exploits a core vulnerability in the human psyche.

Stephen Lam / Reuters Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg waves as he leaves the stage during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, Calif., April 18. Parker's comments show an industry coming to the realization that human psychology doesn't always need to be hacked. His tenure at the social media site didn't last long; he was asked to resign in 2006 after police found cocaine in a vacation home he was renting. The three tech giants testified in marathon congressional hearings last week over the impact of social networks on last year's U.S. presidential election, and how Russian agents leveraged social media to sow discord among people.

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Parker considers himself "something of a conscientious objector" when it comes to social media, having been an original leader in the industry, and now a critic.

In April, a former product manager at Google told "60 Minutes" how technology companies have mastered "brain hacking" to keep users' attention. Most recently, the social network is working on combating fake news, fake accounts, and managing revenge porn.

"I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it".

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"I don't know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying", Parker told Allen, before noting "the unintended consequences" of a network growing to "a billion or two billion people".

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