State of Affairs

Former Facebook executive: “you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed”

Former Facebook executive: “you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed”

“I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” former Facebook vice-president of user growth Chamath Palihapitiya, told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business last November (see video below).

His comments first emerged on VERGE this week.

Palihapitiya expressed regret for his part in building tools that destroy “the social fabric of how society works” and warned his audience: “If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you. It’s time to take a hard break from some of these tools.”

The former Facebook executive who left Facebook in 2011 said: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.

“And this is not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads,” he added. “This is a global problem … 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 don’t use these tools anymore. I haven’t for years.

“Bad actors can now manipulate large swaths of people to do anything they want. It’s a 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 ups) and we conflate that with value and we conflate that with truth.”

He warned his audience of bright Stanford graduates that whether they realize it or not, “you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed” (as are all of us). It was unintentional, he said, but now you have to decide how much of your intellectual independence you’re willing to give up, he told his audience.

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