We all know that social media can be toxic sometimes. But hearing that from someone who helped create one of today’s biggest social networking platforms is clearly unexpected.
Chamath Palihapitiya, who was a Facebook executive, recently expressed his concern over social media in general when appearing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. During a public discussion at the school, the former vice president of user growth said in front of the audience that he felt a “tremendous guilt” for helping create tools “that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
He went on suggesting that people need to take “a hard break” from social media, where interactions are driven by “hearts, likes, thumbs-up.” He shared, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth.”
He pointed out that those problems weren’t only America’s. “This is 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,” he continued.
He then used a recent incident in India as an example of how the society is ruined by social media. The incident ended up with seven innocent people getting lynched after false messages about kidnapping were spread around on the Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp.
“That’s what we’re dealing with,” Palihapitiya shared. “And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.”
Palihapitiya worked with Facebook from 2005 to 2011, during which he collected money to then start his own fund called the Social Capital. The venture capitalist, who also owns the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, further said of social media that he tried to use Facebook as little as possible and completely banned his children from using “that s**t.”
Palihapitiya is hardly the first former Facebook worker to have questioned the impact of the social media on the society. Prior to this, Facebook’s first president Sean Parker openly expressed his regrets over helping build the social networking site.
“I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because of the unintended consequences of what I was saying, because of the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” Parker said back then. “God only knows that it’s doing to our children’s brains.”