Tech Pioneers Begin Push to Fight Addiction

Early employees of Facebook, Google band together in advocacy group
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2018 4:00 PM CST
Tech Pioneers Begin Push to Fight Addiction
Are people doing this too much?   (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

A backlash against the amount of time kids and adults devote to social media has been emerging of late from a surprising place: Silicon Valley. Now the movement is poised to grow substantially. A group called the Center for Humane Technology, made up of early employees of companies such as Facebook and Google, is launching a massive PR campaign called the Truth About Tech, reports the New York Times. The idea: Spread the message to students, teachers, and parents that they have been manipulated by giant tech companies to become addicted to obsessing over their social media profiles. The push is getting $7 million from the media watchdog group Common Sense, as well as $50 million in donated media and airtime from the likes of Comcast and DirecTV.

“The largest supercomputers in the world are inside of two companies—Google and Facebook—and where are we pointing them? We’re pointing them at people’s brains, at children,” says Tristan Harris, co-founder of CHT who formerly worked as a Google ethicist. Others in the group include Justin Rosenstein, credited with helping invent Facebook's Like button, notes CNET. The CHT site says this moment could be a "turning point" in the tech revolution, one that moves away from design strategies that deliberately create damaging addictions and toward "technology that protects our minds." (One early Facebook exec feels "tremendous guilt" over what he helped build.)

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