FACEBOOK is as “addictive as tobacco” and has caused “countless deaths”, claims the man behind the first Facebook.
Aaron Greenspan – who created Harvard’s social network “The Face Book” while studying there alongside Facebook’s current head Mark Zuckerberg – says the world’s most popular social network was designed to get people hooked.
“Facebook’s addictive qualities may not kill anyone directly as cigarettes do every day but it is now established that the site has led to countless deaths,” Greenspan told The Daily Telegraph, effectively reigniting his long-running feud with Zuckerberg.
He cited a leaked memo by top Facebook exec Andrew “Boz” Bosworth which revealed the “ugly truth” behind the social network’s relentless quest for growth over user safety.
“We connect people. Period. That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified,” wrote Boz in the 2016 memo, which was kept secret until earlier this year.
He continued: “Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”
The shocking revelation caused employees to speak out about the company’s growth obsession at the time, most notably software engineer Alec Muffett, who said Facebook’s decision to build a censorship tool to gain a foothold in China caused him to quit the firm.
Equating “growth to good”, said Greenspan, makes the “analogy to cancer as a result of the addictive process particularly apt”.
He added that if he was at Facebook he would’ve stressed the “importance of…quality over quantity” even if that meant sacrificing accelerated growth.
His comments follow similar criticism of the social network from former insiders who admitted to building addictive features to hook people at “an incredibly young age”.
Ex-Facebook staffer Leah Pearlman, the woman who created the platform’s iconic “Like” button, also told of how she wound up getting addicted to the site herself:
“I noticed that I would post something that I used to post, and the Like count would be way lower than it used to be. Suddenly I thought I’m actually also kind of addicted to the feedback.”
Greenspan’s row with Zuckerberg centred on who came up with Facebook and saw him win an undisclosed settlement after taking Zuck and co. to court.
But if Facebook’s $65million payout to the Winklevoss Brothers – who also claimed to have come up with the idea for the social network – is anything to go by, Greenspan’s settlement could also have been in the millions.
Both Bosworth and Zuckerberg distanced themselves from the controversial memo after it was leaked, with the former claiming his intent was to raise “hard topics” and “bad ideas” for the purpose of a civil discourse.
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In a statement to The Sun, a Facebook spokesperson denied Greenspan’s latest allegations.
“We’ve responded to each of these concerns repeatedly, including publishing estimates of duplicate and false accounts, detailing our investments in safety and security and how we changed News Feed with people’s wellbeing in mind.
“We’ll continue to invest heavily in tools and technology to protect our community and have made it clear that this will always be more important than maximising profits.”
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