Former Facebook Exec: Social Media Is Ripping Our Social Fabric Apart

|

Chamath Palihapitiya, who worked at Facebook beginning in 2007 and eventually became its vice president for user growth, warned that the social network is "ripping apart the social fabric of how society works."

During a "View From The Top" talk in November at Stanford, Palihapitiya said that he does not allow his children to use social media or Facebook. "If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you," he warned.

"If you push back on it, we have a chance to control it and rein it in. And it is a point in time where people need to hard brake from some of these tools, and the things that you rely on. The short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works," he added.





"What it really is, is fake, brittle popularity," he said about social media in general. "That's short-term and that leaves you even more, and admit it, vacant and empty before you did it."

"Because then you're in this vicious cycle, 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 then to the perceptions of others. It's just a really bad thing," he said. "It's really, really bad."

CHAMATH PALIHAPITIYA: I feel tremendous guilt.

I think we all knew in the back of our minds, even though we feigned this whole line of there probably aren't any really bad unintended consequences. I think in the back recesses of our mind, 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. That is truly where we are. I would encourage all of you, as the future leaders of the world to really internalize how important this is. If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you.

If you push back on it, we have a chance to control it and rein it in. And it is a point in time where people need to hard brake from some of these tools, and the things that you rely on. The short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works.

No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth, and it 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. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.

I don't have a good solution. My solution is, I just don't use these tools anymore, I haven't for years.

It created huge tension with my friends, huge tensions in my social circles. If you look at my Facebook feed, I've posted maybe like two times in seven years.

Three times, five times, it is less than ten. And it's weird, I guess, I kind of innately didn't want to get programmed, and so I just kind of tunes it out. But I didn't confront it. And now to see what's happening, it really bums me out.

I think about these examples where there was a hoax at WhatsApp, where in some village in India, people were afraid that there kids were going to get kidnapped etc. And then there were these lynchings that happened as a result. Where people were like vigilante running around. They think they found a person, and they, I mean seriously?

That's what we're dealing with. Imagine when you take 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, and we compound the problem. We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short-term signals; hearts, likes, thumbs up. And we conflate that with value, and we conflate it with truth.

And instead what it really is, is fake, brittle popularity. That's short-term and that leaves you even more, and admit it, vacant and empty before you did it. Because then you're in this vicious cycle, 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 then to the perceptions of others. It's just a really bad thing, it's really, really bad...

You don't realize it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you're willing to give up. How much of your intellectual independence, and don't think, yeah, not me, I'm a genius, I'm at Stanford. You're probably the most likely to fall for it. Because you are check-boxing your whole damn life. No offense, guys.

Comment
Show commentsHide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives