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Sean Parker
Sean Parker, Chairman of of Causes and a Managing Partner, Founder's Fund, speaks at Web. 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. Parker was co-founder of Napster. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Facebook's former president said it's 'exploiting a vulnerability' in human psychology


Facebook’s founding president says that the social media network has been “exploiting” human psychology en route to becoming one of the world’s tech giants.

“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?’” Sean Parker said Wednesday during an Axios event in Philadelphia.

“And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every one in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever,” he continued.

“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

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Parker then joked that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would block his account upon learning of his remarks.

“It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” he said of Facebook. “It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways.”

“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” added Parker, who was the company’s president from 2003 to 2005.

“The inventors, creators – it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s [co-founder] Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people – understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”

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Facebook estimated in a report released earlier this month that approximately 60 million – or 2 percent of its monthly average users – may be fake accounts.

Company CFO Dave Wehner said in a recent investors call that many of the false accounts are used for spam.

Facebook separately estimated that about 10 percent of its accounts – or more than 200 million accounts – are “duplicates” managed by a user with a distinct, main account.

The tech giant earlier this month testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a three-day session, giving investigators details on efforts by foreign actors to meddle in U.S. politics.

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