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You a Facebook user?
Then you need to read this

January 13, 2018

Chronicle news & opinion

(INTERNATIONAL) -- Roger McNamee is Managing Director at Elevation Partners and an early stage investor in both Google and Facebook.

He also has two opinion pieces over at the Guardian everyone in our opinion should read.

The first piece, found here is called " How Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy."

And if anyone should know about that, McNamee is one of those people. Check these few graphs from that first piece and mind you, as you read this remember...this is a guy who had made a tremendous amount of money off Facebook and probably still does.

He didn't need to stick his neck out in this manner. In fact, we estimate that 98% of the people in his position would keep their mouths shut and be happy to let that money roll in and buy a few more yachts. Here's the first few paragraphs:

"Facebook and Alphabet are huge because users are willing to trade privacy and openness for “convenient and free.” Content creators resisted at first, but user demand forced them to surrender control and profits to Facebook and Alphabet.

The sad truth is that Facebook and Alphabet have behaved irresponsibly in the pursuit of massive profits. They have consciously combined persuasive techniques developed by propagandists and the gambling industry with technology in ways that threaten public health and democracy.

The issue, however, is not social networking or search. It is advertising business models. Let me explain.

From the earliest days of tabloid newspapers, publishers realized the power of exploiting human emotions. To win a battle for attention, publishers must give users “what they want,” content that appeals to emotions, rather than intellect.

Substance cannot compete with sensation, which must be amplified constantly, lest consumers get distracted and move on.

“If it bleeds, it leads” has guided editorial choices for more than 150 years, but has only become a threat to society in the past decade, since the introduction of smartphones."

He goes on to explain why that is so.

McNamee's second piece found here is called, "I was Mark Zuckerberg's mentor. Today I would tell him: your users are in peril."

He starts this piece off with, " I am a tech investor, and Facebook is by far my largest investment. Still, for the past 15 months I have been pushing Facebook to sacrifice near term profits. The reason? I want them to address the harm the platform has caused through addiction and exploitation by bad actors. Government watchdogs barely regulate the technology sector in the United States, so investors like myself have a big role to play."

He goes on to note that, "More than 2 billion people worldwide use social media; two-thirds of them use Facebook every day. A scary percentage of smartphone owners exhibit signs of addiction. They can’t quit."

That's right, they CANNOT quit. McNamee notes that in an interview back in November of last year with Axios, Facebook’s original president, Sean Parker, admitted that the company intentionally sought to addict users and expressed regret at the damage being inflicted on children.

"This admission, by one of the architects of Facebook," he writes, "Comes on the heels of...hearings by Congressional committees about Russian interference in the 2016 election, where the general counsels of Facebook, Alphabet (parent of Google and YouTube), and Twitter attempted to deflect responsibility for manipulation of their platforms."

He also notes these important items:

"The term “addiction” is no exaggeration. The average consumer checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day, making more than 2,000 swipes and touches. The applications they use most frequently are owned by Facebook and Alphabet, and the usage of those products is still increasing.

In terms of scale, Facebook and YouTube are similar to Christianity and Islam respectively. More than 2 billion people use Facebook every month, 1.3 billion check in every day. More than 1.5 billion people use YouTube. Other services owned by these companies also have user populations of 1 billion or more."

These are important pieces to read, particularly if you are a teacher or otherwise engaged in the field of education.



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