by Graham Pierrepoint
You’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone ever associated with something as game-changing as Facebook would all be caught up in that big blue bubble – that they would all have the same opinions on the positivity that social media can bring to the world. However, as it has emerged this week, a former Facebook head has revealed ▶ that he feels the network is continuing to perform to the detriment of its users – and his words are very interesting indeed.
Sean Parker – a billionaire made as a result of his share of the company – was responsible for helping to expand Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg in the early 00s, having been instrumental in the launch and success of Napster long before that. Napster can largely be credited with starting the digital music boom, something which iTunes and Spotify later went on to evolve and monopolize. Beyond this, however, Parker isn’t too keen on the big F these days – having spoken out against exploitation of what he has referred to as ‘vulnerability’ in its users ▶.
“It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other,” remarked Parker. “It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways.” In conversation at a recent event, he also showed concern for what the network may be doing to young people’s minds and attitudes. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he muses ▶.
Parker now operates the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, a facility which has been in place since last year and which brings together cancer facilities and US-based immunologists. He has clearly moved on to more humanitarian concerns, as he continues to assert that the main focus for starting up Facebook was to consume attention and time ▶. “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” Parker advises. “The investors, creators – it’s me, it’s Mark, it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people – understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”
Parker’s concerns regarding Facebook may not be completely isolated – the network has been trying to reinvent itself in various ways over the past few years in light of the rise of services such as Snapchat capturing young people’s attention. Facebook is now largely the social network for those in their mid-20s and up – can it hold onto its crown as the major player in the social media climate?