When Facebook launched in 2004 as a platform for college students to connect with one another, no one could’ve foreseen its massive future. The once-small site is now a global service with over 2 billion users—and a ton of responsibility to protect the privacy of those users. However, the site has made our data its business, and one early Facebook investor says he is now “terrified” by what the company has become.
In an op-ed piece for USA Today, tech investor Roger McNamee described his discomfort with what he sees as Facebook’s exploitation of human nature, creating an addicting experience to serve its own business needs. He even described the site as a “menace to public health and to democracy.” The company is able to manipulate its users, he argues, because of how much information it has on us.
“The big Internet companies know more about you than you know about yourself, which gives them huge power to influence you, to persuade you to do things that serve their economic interests,” McNamee wrote. “Facebook… and others compete for each consumer’s attention, reinforcing biases and reducing the diversity of ideas to which each is exposed. The degree of harm grows over time.”
Not only was McNamee an early investor in Facebook, but he also advised its team. The fact that he profited enormously from Facebook and still feels this way about it should raise some red flags for regular users like us.