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
"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."
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."
Facebook Founding President Sounds Alarm
"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.
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.
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.