Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya feels "tremendous guilt" for helping build the world's largest social media network, saying it's fueling the spread of "misinformation" and destroying the way civil society works.
"I feel tremendous guilt," Mr. Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, The Verge reported Monday. "I think in the back, deep, deep recesses of our minds we kind of knew something bad could happen, but I think the way we defined it was not like this.
"It literally is a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works," he said, before encouraging people take a "hard break" from social media. "If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you. If you push back on it, you have a chance to control it and rein it in."
Mr. Palihapitiya lamented that social media users often conflate digital interactions like "hearts" and "likes" with value and truth, which leaves people feeling more "vacant and empty" than before they started.
"It forces you into this vicious cycle where you're like, 'What's the next thing I need to do now, because I need it back?' Think about that compounded by two billion people and then think about how people react to the perceptions of others," he said.
"The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works," he said. "No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. And it's not an American problem -- this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem."
"It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and to each other," he added.
Mr. Palihapitiya said his solution has been to abstain from social media almost completely, which has caused "huge tensions" with his friends. His children "aren't allowed to use that s---" either, he said.
Mr. Palihapitiya acknowledged that Facebook, specifically, "overwhelmingly does good in the world," but said he's glad to no longer be a part of it. He said he now uses his capital gained from Facebook to use toward issues more important to him like diabetes, education and climate change.
Mr. Palihapitiya's remarks come one month after former Facebook President Sean Parker criticized social media's "social-validation feedback loop" and its effects on society.
"God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains," he told a crowd Nov. 8 in Philadelphia.
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