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Sean Parker Reveals Background Thinking Inside Facebook – Profit Through People’s Weaknesses

Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook gave an insider’s story to the media about the back-end thinking within the company. The decision-maker’s within basically make money through exploiting well known human weaknesses based on psychology. And data. Lots and lots of data.

Parker (38) described himself as “something of a conscientious objector” to social media. He’s the co-founder of Napster, Plaxo, Causes, Airtime.com and a founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy – Parker spoke yesterday at an Axios event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia about accelerating cancer innovation. In the green room, Parker mentioned that he has become “something of a conscientious objector” on social media.

Parker’s I-was-there account provides priceless perspective in the rising debate about the power and effects of the social networks, which now have scale and reach unknown in human history. He’s worried enough that he’s sounding the alarm.

By the time he left the stage, he jokingly said Mark Zuckerberg will probably block his account after reading this:

  • “When Facebook was getting going, 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.’ And then they would say, ‘No, no, no. I value my real-life interactions. I value the moment. I value presence. I value intimacy.’ And I would say, … ‘We’ll get you eventually.'”
  • “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 2 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.”
  • “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?'”
  • “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 … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
  • “The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”

Parker also said on life sciences: “Because I’m a billionaire, I’m going to have access to better health care so … I’m going to be like 160 and I’m going to be part of this, like, class of immortal overlords. [Laughter] Because, you know the [Warren Buffett] expression about compound interest. … [G]ive us billionaires an extra hundred years and you’ll know what … wealth disparity looks like.”

To get an inside look into Facebook’s human-fabric, check out this awesome research, and to get an idea of just how deep the data pillaging goes, check out this post from the same authors.

We urge you to inform yourselves about the usefulness of AI to the ruling classes (those with money) and how AI might be used against you in one way or another. This TED talk deals with the immense power of AI and Machine Learning in the hands of corporations.

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