The former President of Facebook, Sean Parker, stated in a recent interview that the social media giant is “going through an internal existential crisis.” Parker observed, “you shouldn’t try to design your product to be used less because that’s a weird thing for a company to do.”
Speaking with Robert Costa of the Washington Post, former Facebook President and Napster co-founder Sean Parker stated that the social media platform was going through an “internal existential crisis.” Cost asked Parker whether Facebook has had the “appropriate response” to both allegations of election hacking on the platform and their recent breaches of user data.
Parker replied: “I think Facebook is going through a kind of internal existential crisis, they’re having their own kind of — everybody I know at the company is asking themselves difficult questions about Facebook’s role in society, Facebook’s role in journalism, Facebook’s role in whatever, and I think that’s healthy. Y’know its like you’re this little startup you’re trying to make it, trying to beat off all these competitors, Google has — I don’t know if anybody remembers Google Plus but they tried to compete with Facebook — Myspace was the market leader until like 2008 if you can believe it. And then you had various other attacks from other companies along the way, Snapchat at one point posed a really major threat to the company, so you’re in like survival mode and nobody is giving you any flack for that. And then all of a sudden there’s this onslaught of concern.”
Costa then asked Parker what he felt Facebook should do then to deal with their current situation to which Parker replied: “I don’t think there’s necessarily one answer here, I mean marketing and communications, better PR is not the answer, y’know you shouldn’t try to design your product to be used less because that’s a weird thing for a company to do. That’s like — maybe if you’re like a liquor company or a bar you can say we’ll cut you off…”
Costa asked Parker if the bar analogy meant he believed that Facebook was addictive, Parker replied: “I think as addictive as these products are, it’s very hard to imagine designing a product — changing the fundamental way that the product works. Unless you’re getting something out of it, unless you’re getting something out of it psychologically in terms of social validation or a feeling of connectedness to other people, in the past I’ve said like a dopamine hit to the brain, and unless you’re getting that you’re not necessarily going to contribute content.”
Parker has previously described Facebook’s appeal as a “social-validation feedback loop” which exploits human psychology to keep users coming back to the app:
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.
Watch the full interview with the Washington Post here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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