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Early Facebook adviser: social giant exploits 'a vulnerability in human psychology'

Early Facebook adviser: social giant exploits 'a vulnerability in human psychology'
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Early Facebook adviser Sean Parker on Wednesday slammed the company he played a pivotal role in building.

Parker described himself as “something of a conscientious objector" to social media in an interview with Axios, railing against the company for being designed to exploit “a vulnerability in human psychology.”

“That thought process was really all about ‘how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’” Parker said.

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“That means that we needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in awhile because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. ... It's a social validation feedback loop,” he continued.

Parker said that he, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom were all aware of these exploits, but pursued them anyway.

Parker admitted that when he was helping advise Facebook as it grew, he was unsure if he understood the consequences of what could happen when the network grew to the 2 billion people who are on its platform now.

Parker, who made his name in tech with the file sharing program Napster, stumbled across the company in its early days. Parker, who is portrayed in "The Social Network" by Justin Timberlake, introduced Zuckerberg to Facebook’s first investor, Silicon Valley titan Peter Thiel, an eventual surrogate for President Trump's campaign.

Facebook is facing scrutiny over larger questions of how it, along with other tech firms, can affect democracies. Top lawyers from Facebook, Twitter and Google testified last week before several congressional committees that probed the firms on how Russian actors used their platforms to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Critics like Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart Franken#MeWho? The hypocritical silence of Kamala Harris The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate Dems face unity test; Tanden nomination falls Gillibrand: Cuomo allegations 'completely unacceptable' MORE (D-Minn.) say that they would like to the firms display a better understanding of the impact that they can have. Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharTech companies duke it out at Senate hearing Big Tech set to defend app stores in antitrust hearing Jimmy Carter remembers Mondale as 'best vice president in our country's history' MORE (D-Minn.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' Manchin throws support behind union-backed PRO Act New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations MORE (D-Va.) have introduced a bill called the Honest Ads Act, aimed at curbing foreign influence in American politics. The legislation would hold internet ad platforms to the same political advertising disclosure standards as TV and radio stations. 

On Thursday, Klobuchar told The Hill that tech firms have still not come around to supporting the bill in its current form.