Former Exec: Facebook Is Ripping the Social Fabric of Society


Facebook fired back at a former executive who said that he was feeling "tremendous guilt" for helping create tools that are "ripping apart" society.

Chamath Palihapitiya, whose LinkedIn page says he was Facebook's vice president of user growth for mobile and worldwide, said in an interview at the Stanford Graduate School of Business that social media is eroding civil society around the world. No civil discourse. No cooperation. The tech giant, along with rivals Twitter and Google, testified before Congress last month about the impact of social networks on last year's U.S. presidential election, and how Russian agents leveraged social media to divide Americans. "This is a global problem", he said.

Facebook has pushed back on the former executive's comments, saying in a statement Tuesday that Palihapitiya has not worked there for more than six years and that it was "a very different company back then".

And it seems few are being as critical as some of the people who helped make Facebook into the world-leading social site it is today.

"The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them. was all about 'How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'" Parker said.

"We take our role very seriously and we are working hard to improve", Facebook's statement continued. The same day the company testified before Congress, Zuckerberg said his company was going to put its 2 billion users ahead of profit. He added that the company's early employees "kind of knew" what they were building could be abused but they ignored their instincts.

Facebook added it has worked with experts to understand the effects its service has on its users.

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A former Facebook executive delivered a speech excoriating social media and accusing it of tearing apart the fabric of society.

About four days earlier at an Axios forum, former Facebook president Sean Parker discussed Facebook objectives during the early days.

The problem is not isolated to Facebook, he said, citing other social-media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. He explained that his comments were directed at social media in general, rather than being an attack on just Facebook.

Facebook's statement suggests the company may be devising a strategy to hit back against criticism as we enter 2018.

Still, Palihapitiya said he doesn't let his children use devices and reiterated his belief that social media is hurting how society works.

"God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains", he told an audience in Philadelphia last month. Facebook has claimed that it will not display ads on Messenger Kids or use its data for advertising on Facebook.

Snap - the company that owns Snapchat - also recently criticized social media, with its CEO Evan Spiegel recently saying social media has fueled the rise of "fake news." Palihapitiya said he avoids social media because he "innately didn't want to get programmed".