Social networks are how people mostly interact these days, and the one that stands out is Facebook where we share pictures and post interesting tidbits about our lives. However, one former Facebook executive recently said that he feels guilty that it has changed how people behave between each other for the worse.
Chamath Palihapitiya – who worked as Facebook’s vice president for user growth between 2007 and 2011 – said that he regrets how the social networking platform that boasts over 2 billion monthly users has turned into something negative.
“It literally is a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are,” he said. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem.”
Facebook responded that the former executive worked six years ago and that a lot has changed since then, and that the company is different today, and “as we have grown we have realized our responsibilities have grown too.”
Facebook says it works with academics and other experts on the effects of society’s attachment to social media and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said protecting his community is more important than increasing profits.
Certainly it appears Facebook can be addictive, as people all around you – ourselves included? – immediately hook into our accounts to check the latest news from our Facebook friends.
But what effect is it having on us? Chicago News asked a couple of users what they thought about the latest criticism and what role Facebook plays in their lives.
Michelle Gavin, who worked on an exchange program in Ukraine, is a regular Facebook user who posts pictures and shares information on a daily basis.
Gavin is a free-lance photographer who posts her photographs of the holidays, food and travels. She told Chicago News that Facebook plays an important role for her because she has many friends from around the world and the social forum helps her to keep in touch with them and learn about their lives in different cultures. She also enjoys being part of groups in Kyiv and Tbilisi which serve as a bulletin board of information for expats which she can’t get anywhere else.
“I think FB has both pluses and minuses,” she wrote on FB. “Perhaps it’s generational how we use it as well. I have gotten addicted and sucked in myself and do need to pull back. It’s something I’ve used to take up time when I’ve felt disconnected, see photos of friends’ trips, and actually learn about reaction to current events and pop culture and exchange information.”
She wrote that the most beneficial aspect is the messenger function.
What doesn’t she like about Facebook?
“I least like people’s selfies,” she wrote. “I don’t like the ‘like’ aspect. Most of us want to be liked in general and this is just a weird and unnatural way to feel support or that people care about you or something you posted. Somehow it feels like a popularity contest.”
John Vlahakis is the CEO of Earthy, LLC and a fine arts photographer. He too posts beautiful pictures of the city and other places he’s visited on his Facebook page.
He said he rarely uses Facebook, but he will use it to find people, such as old high school or college buddies on occasion.
“I don’t like it,” he said. “I’ve lost interest in it since they’ve gone to charging for everything and limiting the posts you see your friends put up. I was finding it to be a total waste of time.”
Vlahakis told Chicago News that in the old days you would see everyone’s postings, but now they are buried so that you see more paid-content ads. If you run a business, the only way Facebook can work for you is if you advertise every day with them, with no guarantee it will work.
Vlahakis said he uses Instagram more – where he has 24K followers – because he focuses on photos. He said young people prefer Snapchat. Children say Facebook is too old.
“Snapchat disappears after 15 minutes,” he wrote on FB messenger. “They like the anonymity of it, and it feels like they are part of something instantaneously. They are not looking at it from a past perspective. Very forward looking, very instant gratification.”