Sean Parker to Facebook Users: We Exploited You
'God only knows what it's doing to children's brains,' he says of social media
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2017 7:41 AM CST
Sean Parker is now founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy,   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Prepare to feel manipulated. At an Axios forum, Sean Parker explained how he, Mark Zuckerberg, and other social media pioneers made a fortune by deliberately "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology." Parker, the first president of Facebook, says the site set out to hook people into spending as much time as possible on the network, and it pulled off the feat with a strategy he calls a "social-validation feedback loop." He explains:

  • "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."

Parker, 38, also mentions Kevin Systrom of Instagram as being among those to exploit users' egos, and he says it wasn't something they lucked into. "(We) understood this consciously," he says. "And we did it anyway." Click for video and more of his comments, perhaps the most jarring of which is, "God only knows what it's doing to children's brains."

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