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April 10, 2018

Cruz Grills Mark Zuckerberg On Whether FaceBook is a "Neutral Public Forum"

He only had five minutes of time. He did ask good questions during that time.

Ben Sasse just ended questioning by asking, rather too briefly for my tastes, about whether FaceBook specifically makes its service a dopamine-spiking machine. A former FaceBook vice president said that FaceBook keeps audiences locked in via "dopamine-driven feedback loops."

"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 has pushed back on the former executive's comments, saying in a statement Tuesday that Palihapitiya has not worked there for more than six years and that it was "a very different company back then."

Correction: I originally wrote that the whistleblower said that Facebook deliberately codes dopamine-spiking features into its architecture. Reading the quote now, the VP does not say "deliberately;" he merely says it's present.

A video below explains this.

But Zuckerberg said he was unaware of this and that his employees didn't plan for this.

Here's a What I've Learned video about social media companies engineering their products (either deliberately or accidentally) to be somewhat addictive, via dopamine hit feedback loops.

Dopamine is the wanting/craving hormone - when you satisfy the craving, dopamine recedes, which is felt in the body as relief from craving and thus pleasurable -- and any addict finds his dopamine spiking when he's away form his drug of choice.

Social media companies, high-ranking whistleblowers say, have engineered their products (whether deliberately or inadvertently) to spike dopamine and thus inculcate a type of digital addiction.

Note/Clarification/Correction: I had thought that I read that social media companies manipulate dopamine response deliberately. But right now I can't establish that, so I'm correcting this post and taking out that claim. I'll read further and see if my "deliberately" characterization has been claimed or if it is entirely a misremembering on my part.

More: thanks to Commenter, here's Tucker Carlson talking about this, including an excerpt from FaceBook's first president Sean Parker, saying they designed Facebook "understanding" that their product was addictive, and "consciously" doing this anyway.

I still don't know if anyone has said what I first claimed was said, that is, that this dopamine-driven feedback loop addiction was deliberately engineered.

This subject was also covered by pornography paparazzo Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes:

His intro of the piece (about Google) says that the companies are "engineering" their devices to be "addictive."

He talks about the slot machine effect (rather than the casino effect, as I termed it).

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posted by Ace of Spades at 05:03 PM

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