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Antisocial media: why I decided to cut back on Facebook
Posted: MinervaDoe @ Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:34 am
Antisocial media: why I decided to cut back on Facebook and Instagram

Only when I tried to quit social networks did I realise how addictive and enveloping they are designed to be. Now I am convinced we are heading for a public health crisis

Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president wrote:
“The thought process that went into building [social networks such as Facebook] was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’” “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content and that’s going to get you ... more likes and comments. It’s a social-validation feedback loop ... you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors … understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”

Arwa Mahdawi wrote:
In the next decade, we are going to see a social media public health crisis unfold as the effects on our brains, relationships and democracies unfold. We are getting previews of what that might look like already: there is a growing mountain of evidence that suggests Facebook negatively affects people’s mental and physical health. We are also beginning to understand, thanks to Facebook’s own experiments, that the network has the ability to manipulate and control our emotions. Then there are its effects on society: it has become clear that Facebook can encourage self-segregation and exacerbate social divides. Indeed, the former vice-president for user growth at Facebook sparked headlines in December for saying that he felt “tremendous guilt” for his work on a platform that he believes is “eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other”. It is also apparent how easily the power of Facebook can be used by malevolent actors. We now know, for example, that during the 2016 US presidential election false news from a single Russian troll farm reached about 126 million people.

Arwa Mahdawi wrote:
In November 2017, Facebook, Twitter and Google were summoned to testify before Congress in the US about Russian election meddling and the steps they had in place to prevent their platforms being abused. None of the companies’ CEOs bothered to turn up (although they were not summoned specifically). Zuckerberg talks a lot about “community” and not enough about accountability. Until the likes of Facebook match their greater power with a greater sense of responsibility, we ought to ask ourselves how much we want to be a willing part of their journey to world domination.

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