Facebook Was Created To Exploit A Vulnerability In Human Psychology

Sean Parker
Founder of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Founder of Napster, Former President at Facebook

The social giant Facebook has been criticized by many, and attacked by one of its founding members for "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology" and putting children's mental health at risk.

Sean Parker is Facebook's former president who joined the company in its first months, worried that Facebook interferes with productivity in weird ways. Parker said that Facebook's founders intentionally built the site to consume as much human attention as possible.

Facebook was built when its founders were young, and regarded to be not yet matured enough to think about the results.

"All of us are jacked into this system," he said. "All of our minds can be hijacked. Our choices are not as free as we think they are."

Parker also criticized Facebook for its affect on children. "It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other," he said. "God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains."

Parker, a former hacker who founded file-sharing website Napster, said he had become a "conscientious objector" to the social networking site.

Facebook plays a big role in people's internet addiction.

Its core service, as well as Instagram, were found to have the worst impact on young generations' self-esteem, negatively impacting how they see body image, sleep and fear of missing something out.

Parker wasn't criticizing the tech industry as a whole. But it's about the needs to reform the way the attention economy works.

"The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, ... was all about: 'How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?' And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you ... more likes and comments."

"It's a social-validation feedback loop ... exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology."

"The inventors, creators - it's me, it's Mark [Zuckerberg], it's Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it's all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway."

Parker has made billions of dollars thanks to him becoming an early shareholder of the social network. But here, he worries that Facebook has gone beyond control - scaling and reaching a height unknown in human's social history.

This wasn't the first time a tech entrepreneur has disavowed something they’ve created or been involved with. Previously, programmer Ethan Zuckerman famously wrote an apology for unleashing pop-up ads into the world several years ago.