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Facebook hits back at former exec’s claims that it is “destroying how society works”

Former vice president of user growth Chamath Palihapitiya said in a recent interview: ““The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works”
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Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has said he’s willing to reduce profitability in order to invest in users’ wellbeing

Social media giant Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has defended itself against accusations from a former executive that the site is “destroying how society works”.

Facebook  had come under fire earlier in the week when its former vice president of user growth Chamath Palihapitiya said he felt a “tremendous guilt” about the social media platform.

'Facebook knew something bad could happen'

“I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he said in an interview with Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

“I think we all knew in the back of our minds, even though we feigned this whole line of ‘there probably aren’t any really bad unintended consequences’.

“I think in the deep, deep recesses of our minds we kind of knew something bad could happen.”

The company has now hit back, saying that it has matured and evolved in the years since Palihapitiya left.

'We've changed'

“Chamath has not been at Facebook for over six years,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“When Chamath was at Facebook we were focused on building new social media experiences and growing Facebook around the world.

“Facebook was a very different company back then and as we have grown we have realised how our responsibilities have grown too. We take our role very seriously and we are working hard to improve.”

The spokesperson said Facebook – originally founded back in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and a few of his Harvard dorm mates – was always willing to reduce its profitability in order to better understand the impact it has on users’ wellbeing.

Willing to compromise profitability

“We’ve done a lot of work and research with outside experts and academics to understand the effects of our service on well-being, and we’re using it to inform our product development,” the company’s statement continued.

“We are also making significant investments more in people, technology and processes, and – as Mark Zuckerberg said on the last earnings call – we are willing to reduce our profitability to make sure the right investments are made.”

Palihapitiya’s comments came not long after Facebook’s first president, Napster founder Sean Parker, said social media could be changing the way our brains function.

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