By Steve Hilton, Fox News
The case against Big Tech seems to be building by the week. And interestingly, some of the most powerful evidence is being provided by those who really know what they’re talking about: tech insiders.
Full disclosure: I am a tech insider myself. I run a tech company in Silicon Valley. My wife is a senior executive at Facebook and many of our closest friends have senior roles in companies like Google.
Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive responsible for growing the social network’s user base, recently argued that Silicon Valley had “created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
Palihapitiya lamented Big Tech’s role in our democratic debates: “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem – this is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem.”
He cited the role of mobile messaging service WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) in the killings of seven innocent men in India after hoax messages about strangers abducting children were shared.
“That’s what we’re dealing with,” Palihapitiya said. “And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.” He said he tries to use Facebook as little as possible, and that his children “aren’t allowed to use that s---.”
His comments are in line with another huge figure in tech, early Facebook investor Sean Parker, who blasted the addictive properties of Silicon Valley’s technology: “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
Parker argued that Facebook “literally changes your relationship with society” and “probably interferes with productivity in weird ways.”
Parker said that because the whole point of Facebook is to keep people using it. He said “the thought process … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’” That’s why the inventors of tech services like Facebook give their users “a little dopamine hit every once in a while,” for example through ‘likes’ and comments: “It’s a social-validation feedback loop ... exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
Parker went on to say that the men who designed and built these social media platforms, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram’s Kevin Systrom, “understood consciously” what they were doing. “And we did it anyway.”