Science

Facebook Exploits Vulnerability In Human Psychology, Says Founding President Sean Parker

Facebook Exploits Vulnerability In Human Psychology, Says Founding President Sean Parker

Sean Parker, Facebook's first president, had some harsh words about the social network during an interview this week.

Speaking to the news site Axios at an event Wednesday, Parker recalled the early days of the network when he encountered skeptics of social media.

"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". Users spend approximately 20 minutes a day on the website, and Parker says that "it probably interferes with productivity in weird ways".

"God only knows" what Facebook is doing to our children's brains.

Confirming what you basically know, but probably don't want to think about too closely, Parker explained just how he and the other early Facebookers built the platform to "consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible".

That vulnerability and dopamine hit in turn motivates people to post more often, which generates more page views for Facebook and, therefore, more ad revenue. 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".

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Parker, speaking at an Axios event, pulled back the curtain on Facebook's early days, saying it was created to consume people. As Facebook's founding president, he helped fund and guide Mark Zuckerberg as he grew his dorm room startup into a globe-striding behemoth.

"You're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology", he said. "I value presence. I value intimacy.' And I would say, 'We'll get you eventually". Parker saw the site's potential and was, according to Zuckerberg, "pivotal in helping Facebook transform from a college project into a real company".

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.

"As Parker left the stage, he joked that Mark Zuckerberg was going to block his Facebook account". A 2017 study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health, a United Kingdom -based health charity, found that people who use platforms such as Facebook and Instagram were more likely to have anxiety, depression and sleep issues.

Facebook didn't respond to a request for comment on Parker's remarks.