Tech platforms hijacking minds: Early Facebook, Google employees

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Tech platforms hijacking minds: Early Facebook, Google employees
This photo combo of images shows, clockwise, from upper left: a Google sign, the Twitter app, YouTube TV logo and the Facebook app. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, lawmakers grilled executives from Facebook, Google’s YouTube and Twitter about what the companies are doing to prevent extremists and terrorists from using their platforms to spread propaganda and hate and recruit new followers. Lawmakers acknowledged that the companies, especially Google and Facebook, have come a long way when it comes to weeding out terrorist content. But they said more needs to be done. (AP Photo)

San Francisco: In their race to monetise our attention, technology platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google are hijacking our minds and society, says a group of technologists who were early employees at some of these companies.

The cohort is creating a union of concerned experts called the Center for Humane Technology, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The big technology platforms have produced amazing products that have benefited the world enormously, but with their use increasingly persuasive techniques to keep us glued, these companies are now adversely affecting our mental health, social relationship and democracy, according to the Center for Humane Technology.

Designed on the model of anti-smoking drives, the group, along with the nonprofit media watchdog group Common Sense Media, is also planning an anti-tech addiction lobbying effort and an ad campaign, titled The Truth About Tech, the report said.

Reflections on the ill effects of technology are now coming from different quarters at increasing frequency.

Delivering his remarks at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos in January, billionaire investor George Soros called Internet “monopolies” such as Google and Facebook an obstacle to innovation and a menace to society.

“Social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections,” Soros said.

Soros, who created the Open Society Foundations to support democracy and human rights in countries around the world, said that social media companies deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide.