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posted by martyb on Tuesday February 06 2018, @04:38AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the take-two-tablets-and-oh...-wait...hold-the-phone...oh...no?...uh-oh dept.

Silicon Valley technologists, including former Google and Facebook employees, have formed the Center for Humane Technology:

A group of Silicon Valley technologists who were early employees at Facebook and Google, alarmed over the ill effects of social networks and smartphones, are banding together to challenge the companies they helped build.

The cohort is creating a union of concerned experts called the Center for Humane Technology. Along with the nonprofit media watchdog group Common Sense Media, it also plans an anti-tech addiction lobbying effort and an ad campaign at 55,000 public schools in the United States.

The campaign, titled The Truth About Tech, will be funded with $7 million from Common Sense and capital raised by the Center for Humane Technology. Common Sense also has $50 million in donated media and airtime from partners including Comcast and DirecTV. It will be aimed at educating students, parents and teachers about the dangers of technology, including the depression that can come from heavy use of social media.

"We were on the inside," said Tristan Harris, a former in-house ethicist at Google who is heading the new group. "We know what the companies measure. We know how they talk, and we know how the engineering works."

Omidyar Network is listed as a key advisor/supporter.

Also at TIME.

Related: How Facebook Can Be Addictive
Facebook Founding President Sounds Alarm, Criticizes Facebook
Another Former Facebook Exec Speaks Out
FBI Whistleblower on Pierre Omidyar and His Campaign to Neuter Wikileaks


Original Submission

Related Stories

How Facebook Can Be Addictive 13 comments

janrinok writes:

"Researchers from Norway have developed a new instrument to measure Facebook addiction, the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale. This report is based on one first issued in 2012, but updated within the past few days.

'The use of Facebook has increased rapidly. We are dealing with a subdivision of Internet addiction connected to social media,' Doctor of Psychology Cecilie Schou Andreassen says about the study, which is the first of its kind worldwide.

Andreassen heads the research project “Facebook Addiction” at the University of Bergen (UiB). An article about the results has just been published in the renowned journal Psychological Reports. She has clear views as to why some people develop Facebook dependency.

"It occurs more regularly among younger than older users. We have also found that people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face. People who are organized and more ambitious tend to be less at risk from Facebook addiction. They will often use social media as an integral part of work and networking. Our research also indicates that women are more at risk of developing Facebook addiction, probably due to the social nature of Facebook," Andreassen says.

The report also details 6 warning signs of Facebook addiction, which resemble those of drug, alcohol and chemical substance addiction."

Facebook Founding President Sounds Alarm, Criticizes Facebook 38 comments

Both takyon and Phoenix666 bring us news of some harsh words that ex-Facebook president Sean Parker has for the company:

Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker Criticizes Facebook

Facebook's first President has sharply criticized the behemoth he helped shape:

Sean Parker, Facebook's first president, had some harsh words about the social network during an interview this week. The tech investor, also a co-founder of Napster and, perhaps most recognizably, the guy played by Justin Timberlake in "The Social Network," said Facebook was designed to exploit the way people fundamentally think and behave.

There have been "unintended consequences," Parker said, now that Facebook has grown to include 2 billion people -- two out of every seven people on the planet. "It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other," he said in published Wednesday night by Axios. "It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains."

[...] Parker on Wednesday drilled into the addictive nature of Facebook that keeps so many of us coming back. He said it's all by design, because receiving a "like" or a comment on your post gives you a little hit of dopamine. "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."

But that didn't matter to people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, he said. Or Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram, which Facebook owns. Or even himself. In addition to co-founding Napster in 1999, he started Airtime, a video social network that never gained traction. Now he's the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

"The inventors, creators ... understood this consciously," he said. "And we did it anyway."

Also at The Verge and Business Insider.

Facebook Founding President Sounds Alarm

Even Facebook doesn't like Facebook?

"God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains."

A view on social media shared not by some uninformed luddite, but by one of the people responsible for building Facebook into the social media titan it is today.

Sean Parker, Facebook's founding president, unloaded his worries and criticisms of the network, saying he had no idea what he was doing at the time of its creation.

Speaking on stage to Mike Allen from Axios, Mr Parker said: "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?'"

"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.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

Another Former Facebook Exec Speaks Out 39 comments

Chamath Palihapitiya, a former vice president for user growth at Facebook, feels (some) guilt about his role in expanding the social media giant:

Palihapitiya's criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem. "The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we've created are destroying how society works," he said, referring to online interactions driven by "hearts, likes, thumbs-up." "No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it's not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem."

He went on to describe an incident in India where hoax messages about kidnappings shared on WhatsApp led to the lynching of seven innocent people. "That's what we're dealing with," said Palihapitiya. "And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It's just a really, really bad state of affairs." He says he tries to use Facebook as little as possible, and that his children "aren't allowed to use that shit." He later adds, though, that he believes the company "overwhelmingly does good in the world."

[...] In his talk, Palihapitiya criticized not only Facebook, but Silicon Valley's entire system of venture capital funding. He said that investors pump money into "shitty, useless, idiotic companies," rather than addressing real problems like climate change and disease. Palihapitiya currently runs his own VC firm, Social Capital, which focuses on funding companies in sectors like healthcare and education.

From a partial transcript:

You don't realize it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you're willing to give up. How much of your intellectual independence, and don't think, yeah, not me, I'm a genius, I'm at Stanford. You're probably the most likely to fall for it. Because you are check-boxing your whole damn life. No offense, guys.

Previously: Facebook Founding President Sounds Alarm, Criticizes Facebook


Original Submission

FBI Whistleblower on Pierre Omidyar and His Campaign to Neuter Wikileaks 40 comments

FBI Whistleblower on Pierre Omidyar and His Campaign to Neuter Wikileaks

FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds asserts Pierre Omidyar decided to create The Intercept to not only take ownership of the Snowden leaks but also to continue his blockade against WikiLeaks and create a "honey trap" for whistleblowers.

WikiLeaks, the transparency organization known for publishing leaked documents that threaten the powerful, finds itself under pressure like never before, as does its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange. Now, the fight to silence Wikileaks is not only being waged by powerful government figures but also by the media, including outlets and organizations that have styled themselves as working to protect whistleblowers.

As this three-part series seeks to show, these outlets and organizations are being stealthily guided by the hands of special interests, not the public interest they claim to serve. Part I focuses on the Freedom of the Press Foundation, The Intercept, and the oligarch who has strongly influenced both organizations in his long-standing fight to silence WikiLeaks.

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  • (Score: 5, Touché) by c0lo on Tuesday February 06 2018, @04:43AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 06 2018, @04:43AM (#633632) Journal

    I can't wait their high-impact low cost awareness campaigns using Facebook and Twitter...

    (grin)

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @04:45AM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @04:45AM (#633634)

    The things that could be done with that money!

    It's so strange to me that someone thought it would be a good idea to spend millions of dollars on this.

    I suppose the key word here is "lobbying". Someone wants to pull the levers of governmental power, but what is the real motive?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:13AM (6 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:13AM (#633640)

      but what is the real motive?

      Break down the quasi-monopoly of FB/Twitter! Make them pay!!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:43AM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:43AM (#633652)

        "Why are you a bank robber?"

        "I rob banks because that's where the money is."

        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday February 06 2018, @06:12AM (4 children)

          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 06 2018, @06:12AM (#633659) Journal

          ... because that's where the money is.

          So many CEO-s use the same argument. After all, this is what (a certain) society expects them to do: go after the money where those money are.
          Granted, very few of them use so crude a mean as bank robbery, those that do it are doing it from the inside (see Bernie Madoff and Lehman Bros).

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:06AM (3 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:06AM (#633672)

            Also, 2 wrongs don't make a right, or something.

            • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:44AM (2 children)

              by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:44AM (#633680) Journal

              We're talking about Facebook/Twitter.

              I read the S/N's ToS and beat me if i noticed any mention on the interdiction to go on a tangent.

              Also, 2 wrongs don't make a right, or something

              If you want me to admit the original AC post that triggered this as an example of invalid argumentation, that's fine with me, i have no qualms: yes, that post is borderline trollish.
              Which makes your answer to it (the one without 'because that's where the money is') a post equally misdirected.
              Which means my tangent stays in no relationship with TFA's topic, but at least I have the (posthoc) excuse of not being me to start it.

              Or something...

              (grin)

              --
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:11PM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:11PM (#633947)

                So, stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

                • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:24PM

                  by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:24PM (#633957) Journal

                  People get beaten all the time with "Offtopic"
                  So, stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

                  Now that you mention it, seems like the above is another post in no relation with the topic.
                  Funny pipe I must have, sorry for that.

                  --
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by Rich on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:08AM

      by Rich (945) on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:08AM (#633674) Journal

      Someone wants to pull the levers of governmental power, but what is the real motive?

      One does indeed wonder where they got all the money from. I had a look around and saw somewhere else (already forgot where...) that old-school TV seemed to be involved. Makes sense, if the zombies and smombies are locked into facebook and youtube, ad-"supported" TV is screwed for good. Someone also dropped the name "Comcast".

      Philantropic welfare for the people this is not.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @12:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @12:20PM (#633764)

      This is a great idea, money well spent. Since people by the Billions are using social media without obviously understanding the Faustian bargain they make people desperately need to be educated.

      Surveillance capitalism is not in your best interest.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:15AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:15AM (#633642)

    100% think they are self aware. 10% are. 1% of internet posters are self-aware. 0.1% of internet posts are self-aware.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:19AM (#633644)

      My nutsack is the only thing that's truly self-aware. Shhh, baby, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:31AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:31AM (#633648)

      You're off by 3 levels of magnitude.

      100% believe they think. 10% are actually able to think and only 1% are doing it. 0.1% think they are self aware. 0.01% are. 0.001% of internet posters are self-aware. 0.0001% of internet posts are self-aware.

      FTFY.

      Yours,

      THE self-aware internet post.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @08:25AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @08:25AM (#633693)

        Name one person who doesn't claim to be self aware. Everyone can think and actually does think (and believes they think)--unless you're in a coma or something.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Snotnose on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:55AM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:55AM (#633655)

    It's a no-brainer. They just need to take it to the next level to turn this into a win-win situation. The best practice is to get rid of the low-hanging fruit first. Set an agenda so we can go flag up on this thing

    --
    I hate when I put something off to tomorrow, and tomorrow arrives.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by cubancigar11 on Tuesday February 06 2018, @06:00AM (5 children)

    by cubancigar11 (330) on Tuesday February 06 2018, @06:00AM (#633656) Homepage Journal

    Preemptive strike against government regulation. Now they can quietly design algos to monitor your mouse movement and ban their competitors at the same time. All that while keeping government away? That's 3 birds in a stone.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by melikamp on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:41AM (4 children)

      by melikamp (1886) on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:41AM (#633679) Journal

      This could be true. While the nonfree software is not the only cause of the popular system's addictiveness and maliciousness, it is a major enabling factor.

      If spy-phones, for example, were built with a free stack, then users would promptly get the tools to disable any feature they didn't like, which is not possible and will never be possible with nonfree software.

      If the flagship social network was based on a free software app with a federated protocol (like Diaspora [wikipedia.org]), then once again, users would automatically get the tools to disable any client features they don't like, and they would also get a choice of competing servers, each with its own server-side feature set; and aside from the technical improvements, they would also enjoy a decentralized platform, which is somewhat more resistant to censorship and gaming. Again, none of these things will ever be implemented by a proprietary platform, because that's not how one makes money.

      So one has to wonder what the fuck they are thinking when they are saying that the way forward is, in part, to

      Apply Political Pressure. Governments can pressure technology companies toward humane business models by including the negative externalities of attention extraction on their balance sheets, and creating better protections for consumers. We are advising governments on smart policies and better user protections.

      Can you smell the giant pile of the elephant dung in the room? It's the nonfree software. They must be aware of it. They must be aware that a free+libre phone together with ubiquitous anonymous-friendly wireless coverage would make it practically impossible to extract information beyond what users themselves provide. They also must be aware of the fact that consumers are completely shafted by the nonfree software: no silver lining, it is strictly more expensive and more awful, both technically and politically, than a libre equivalent. They know this last part very well, being the insiders. So why are they saying nothing about it?

      I am afraid it's because they really want to concentrate on "empowering employees who advocate for non-extraction based design decisions and business models", because this would be just what the doctor ordered, and what cubancigar11 is suspecting: they want to preempt the actual legislative solution, which would make all nonfree software as legal as vodka mixed with roofies: think giant red danger labels, straight out prohibition in government, healthcare, infrastructure, education. Instead, they would like to mount that wave and waste our collective time with feel-good habit building and "empowering" poor saps who try to change the hopelessly corrupt business model (corrupt chiefly by the lure of nonfree software) from inside.

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by krishnoid on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:47AM (2 children)

        by krishnoid (1156) on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:47AM (#633682)

        They must be aware that a free+libre phone together with ubiquitous anonymous-friendly wireless coverage would make it practically impossible to extract information beyond what users themselves provide.

        Well stated, with the omission of one important additional element [bbc.co.uk].

        • (Score: 2) by cubancigar11 on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:34PM

          by cubancigar11 (330) on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:34PM (#633969) Homepage Journal

          There should be +0 weep for humanity mod.

        • (Score: 2) by melikamp on Tuesday February 06 2018, @06:26PM

          by melikamp (1886) on Tuesday February 06 2018, @06:26PM (#634002) Journal
          Yeah, unfortunately, even if a robust consumer protection law is rolled out tomorrow, and companies all over are practically prevented from distributing nonfree software, and the software+hardware ecosystem gets user-friendly and healthy all of a sudden, we'll still have the user problem you are alluding to. So I personally doubt that a legislative measure I proposed can fix more than 50% of this mess. Still, marginalizing nonfree software is a clean and traditional approach to the problem, which has been shown to work countless times in other areas already benefiting from strong consumer-protection laws. And yet this working group of industry insiders presents itself as unaware of the silver bullet solution; they are lying through their teeth by omission, which really narrows down the range of their possible motives.
      • (Score: 2) by cubancigar11 on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:31PM

        by cubancigar11 (330) on Tuesday February 06 2018, @05:31PM (#633962) Homepage Journal

        By this masterstroke they have actually killed even proprietary software, as the only way for a lot of these "services" to make money is via collecting and selling user data. What we are seeing is a formation of cartel. See, who are we but plebs? By this move they have just moved the date of eventual debacle that is going to happen and is going to finally wake up a lot of us to the security nightmare we are walking right into.

        Anyway, with this move, they have basically devised a way to kill smaller players because they won't be able to make much money anyway without running afoul of some rule formed by this group.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Tuesday February 06 2018, @06:57AM (3 children)

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 06 2018, @06:57AM (#633671) Journal

    Shouldn't they figure out if Tech Addiction is anything beyond the current version of "the young generation is going to hell in a hand basket" before the start assigning an IDC Code and forming committees to "fight" diseases that don't actually exist?

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @12:45PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @12:45PM (#633776)

      Oh, it exists all right.

      I was reminded of that this morning when yet another woman wheeled her baby out into the middle of the road in front of my car while face down in her phone.

      Once again I chose not to run them over, like every other morning, so far.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:13PM (1 child)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:13PM (#634040) Journal

        That is not e definition of an addiction.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07 2018, @11:02AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07 2018, @11:02AM (#634364)

          Nor is that emoticon in your message header an E.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:49AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06 2018, @07:49AM (#633683)

    They are going to make this shit even more annoying?

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