Does Facebook exploit our vulnerabilities?

Facebook's OG prez, Sean Parker, says the platform is "a social-validation feedback loop [that exploits] a vulnerability in human psychology."


November 10, 2017

Facebook is often cast as an addictive abyss of self-congratulatory humblebrags, feather-puffing, and people desperate for validation in the form of iconized thumbs and smiley faces.

And apparently, the company’s OG president, Sean Parker, agrees.

Thumbs down

In a searing interview with Axios, Parker — who now identifies as a  “conscientious objector” of social media — questioned the morality of FB’s business model.

Among his quips:

  • Facebook is “a social-validation feedback loop [that exploits] a vulnerability in human psychology.”
  • Facebook “literally changes your relationship with society, with each other… It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways.”
  • Facebook’s ethos is all about “‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’”

Parker ceded that, from the onset, the company capitalized on the addictiveness of recognition and acceptance to build a loyal following.

There’s some truth to this

Studies have shown that the constant social comparison on Facebook can lead to the erosion of self-esteem, and an overall decline in well-being and life satisfaction. Other research has suggested the platform makes us unhappy by increasing our feelings of envy and jealousy.

Beyond this, getting feedback on Facebook — likes, shares, comments — activates the pleasure center in our brains, and when our posts don’t generate feedback, it can invoke feelings of worthlessness.

Takeaway: be sure to enjoy the real world… like Zuck.

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