Ex-Facebook Exec: 'I Feel Tremendous Guilt'

Chamath Palihapitiya did some 'soul searching' about social media, and it's not good
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2017 7:31 AM CST

Social media was supposed to bring everyone closer together, but a former Facebook exec fears it's doing the exact opposite. "I feel tremendous guilt," Chamath Palihapitiya, who used to be the VP of user growth at the social network, said during an appearance in November at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, in a speech just now being widely shared, per the Verge. "I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works." Palihapitiya railed against the "short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops" where people spend their hours vying for "hearts, likes, thumbs-up," and he blamed "bad actors" for manipulating online information. There is "no civil discourse, no cooperation," simply "misinformation [and] mistruth," he noted, per the New York Post.

He confessed he now rarely uses the network he helped grow—he's posted just a handful of times over the past seven years. "It's created huge tension with my friends, huge tensions in my social circles," he said. He added that in the back of the minds of all those involved in building Facebook, everyone knew "something bad could happen." Palihapitiya isn't completely sure how to take back control of Facebook, which he still said "overwhelmingly does positive good in the world," so he just tries to manage what he can. "I don't use this s---," he said. And "I can control my kids' decision, which is they're not allowed to use this s---." His suggestion for others after this "soul searching"? Take a "hard break" from social media. "If you feed the beast, the beast will destroy you," he said. The Post has a lightly edited transcript of his take. (More social media stories.)

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