A former executive of Facebook, Chamath Palihapitiya has lamented the devastating influence social media is causing the civil society around the world.
Mr. Palihapitiya who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business that he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped to create, saying the tool is ripping apart the social fabric of how the society works.
He recommended people take a “hard break” from social media.
“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said
“No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth and this is a global problem.”
Using the incident in India where a hoax messages about kidnappings shared on WhatsApp led to the lynching of seven innocent people, Palihapitiya said:
“That’s what we’re dealing with. And imagine taking 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.”
He also disclosed that his children “aren’t allowed to use that sh*t,” and later added that Facebook ‘overwhelmingly does good in the world’.
Palihapitiya did not restrict his criticism on Facebook alone. He also pointed out the Silicon Valley’s entire system of venture capital funding and he said investors pump money into “shitty, useless, idiotic companies,” rather than addressing real problems like climate change and disease.
The venture capitalist who currently operates his own VC firm, Social Capital, which focuses on funding companies in sectors like healthcare and education, notes that although tech investors seem almighty, they’ve achieved their power more through luck than skill.
“Everybody’s bullshitting,” he said. “If you’re in a seat, and you have good deal flow, and you have precious capital, and there’s a massive tailwind of technological change… Over time you get one of the 20 [companies that become successful] and you look like a genius. And nobody wants to admit it but that’s the f**king truth.”
Others who helped created Facebook had rained similar criticism on all social media platform. Sean Parker, an early investor said he has become a “conscientious objector” to social media, and that Facebook and others had succeeded by “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”