A former Facebook executive is now warning of the dangers of social media, stating that it is “destroying how society works” in a recent interview.
Chamath Palihapitiya joined the social media giant in 2007 as its vice president of user growth. And now, nearly ten years later, he said he still feels “tremendous guilt” for helping to build Facebook into the tech juggernaut that it is today. He went on to recommend that users take a “hard break” from social media.
“I think we all know if the back of our minds, even though we fringed this whole line of ‘unintended consequences,’ I think in the back recesses of our minds, something bad could happen,” Palihapitiya said in a November interview at the Standard Graduate School of Business. “It literally is at a point now we’ve created tools that are ripping the social fabric of how society works. This is literally where we are.”
The former executive, who now serves as the CEO of venture capital firm Social Capital, didn’t reserve his concerns for Facebook alone — he levied his criticisms at the entire online ecosystem. And, in particular, how social media is becoming increasingly dangerous to modern society.
“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said, calling out the reaction system used by Facebook and others. “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.”
He gave several examples of the problems in Silicon Valley, including how social media can manipulate large swaths of people. He also criticized the venture capital ecosystem, saying that tech investors — who more likely than not become successful through sheer luck — pour money into “useless, idiotic companies” rather than focusing on issues like climate change and disease.
Palihapitiya added that he rarely uses Facebook, if ever. In addition, he said he does not let his children use social media. And he’s not the only one. In November, early Facebook investor Sean Parker said that he himself has become a “conscientious objector” to social media platforms.