Headlines focused this week on an ex-Facebook exec who warned last month about the platform he helped grow, and now the social network is clapping back. Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook's former VP of user growth, said at a Stanford Graduate School of Business appearance he feels "tremendous guilt" over what Facebook is doing to society, he doesn't let his kids "use this s---," and everyone else should probably take a "hard break" from social media. In what the BBC deems an "unusual step," Facebook has some pushback on his words. "When Chamath was at Facebook we were focused on building new social media experiences and growing Facebook around the world," a rep noted, adding Palihapitiya hasn't worked there for years. "Facebook was a very different company back then, and as we have grown we have realized how our responsibilities have grown, too."
Palihapitiya hasn't been alone in his advocate-turned-critic role. In an August op-ed in USA Today, Roger McNamee, an early investor in Google and Facebook, wrote the "unintended consequences" of technologies such as social media "have become a menace to public health and to democracy." And last month, Sean Parker, Facebook's first president, told Mike Allen at Axios a network like Facebook "literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. … God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains" (which means reaction to Facebook's new app for kids should be interesting). But an Independent op-ed by Emlyn Pearce says blaming society's ills on Facebook "is like claiming that bricks are the cause of Trump's border wall." "Social media is a way of managing our relationships, but it is not responsible for the quality of those relationships," he writes. "We are."