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Sean Parker: We Built Facebook to Exploit You

12 November 2017
Sean Parker: We Built Facebook to Exploit You

Sean Parker, who was Facebook's founding president alongside its creator Mark Zuckerberg, has revealed how social media have been specifically created to prey on human weaknesses.

Parker, the billionaire Napster co-founder who later served as Facebook's founding president, made the comments at an Axios event at the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia.

There have been "unintended consequences", Parker said, now that Facebook has grown to include 2 billion people - two out of every seven people on the planet.

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

Parker claimed that with the development of Facebook and other platforms, "the thought process was all about how to we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible".

"And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you... more likes and comments". Parker admits that he and Zuckerberg "understood this consciously" - meaning that they realized they were taking advantage of individuals' inherent need for approval from others, "and we did it anyway".

Facebook is purposefully making its social network addictive, treating each like and comment as dopamine hits to keep users wanting more.

If you've followed Facebook closely from the beginning (or have watched The Social Network), you'll be familiar with the role Sean Parker played in the creation of the company.

But Dr Highfield says it hard to know what impact this is having because "we don't know necessarily how people are using the platforms".

Mr Parker became Facebook's first president after making hundreds of millions of dollars from the music-sharing service Napster.

"It's a social-validation feedback loop", Parker said. Now the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Parker was there to speak about advances in cancer therapies.

With each like and comment, Facebook is "exploiting" human psychology on objective 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".

He jokingly added that Mark Zuckerberg will probably block his account after reading his comments.

When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, 'I'm not on social media.' And I would say, 'OK.