“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
A view on social media shared not by some uninformed luddite, but by one of the people responsible for building Facebook into the social media titan it is today.
Sean Parker, Facebook’s founding president, unloaded his worries and criticisms of the network, saying he had no idea what he was doing at the time of its creation.
Speaking on stage to Mike Allen from Axios, Mr Parker said: « 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?’ »
“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.”
Mr Parker first rose to tech prominence as the creator of pioneering file-sharing service Napster.
In the Facebook story, it was Mr Parker who steered the firm into Silicon Valley and put Mark Zuckerberg’s idea in front of big name investors.
Those early days were reimagined in the film the Social Network. Mr Parker was played by Justin Timberlake.
« When Facebook was getting going,” Mr Parker said on Wednesday, « I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, ‘I’m not on social media.’
« And I would say, ‘OK. You know, you will be.’”
He then added: « I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or two billion people and, it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other.
« It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains. »
As for his own habits, Mr Parker said he no longer used social media as it was “too much of a time sink”.
However, he said he still had an account on Facebook. « If Mark hears this he’s probably going to suspend my account,” he joked.
Facebook did not respond to the BBC’s request for reaction to the comments.
“I use these platforms, I just don’t let these platforms use me,” Mr Parker concluded.