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Former Facebook Executive Says Social Media Exploits Human 'Vulnerability'

12 November 2017

Parker, 38, spoke Wednesday at an Axios event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and while he was officially there to talk about efforts to advance cancer innovation, he apparently went off-script as he began to speak about his status as "something of a conscientious objector" to social media.

"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", he continued.

With each like and comment, Facebook is "exploiting" human psychology on goal to keep users hooked on a "social-validation feedback loop", Parker said, adding that it is "exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with".

But that didn't matter to people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, he said. At least that's according to Sean Parker, who helped create those principles.

Do Parker's comments make you more concerned about your own social media use? . It's not the first time a tech entrepreneur has disavowed something they've created or been involved with - Programmer Ethan Zuckerman famously penned an apology letter for unleashing pop-up ads into the world several years ago.

The 37-year-old billionaire, who is also known for having founded the file-sharing network Napster in the late 1990s, added that Facebook's mission in the early days was just about getting you hooked into its tentacles.

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"It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways".

"I don't know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying", Parker told Allen, before noting "the unintended consequences" of a network growing to "a billion or two billion people".

"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", Parker said.

Now the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Parker recently put $250 million of his money behind cancer research, making him the largest donor ever to immunotherapy treatment research.

"God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains", Parker said in an Axios interview published Thursday, Nov. 9.

"Social media addiction is thought to affect around 5 percent of young people, with social media being described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol", the study stated. Yet "we did it anyway".

Former Facebook Executive Says Social Media Exploits Human 'Vulnerability'