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why you should quit social media

by the people who made it

There are many convincing arguments for quitting social media, ranging across the practical, the psychological, and the existential. But none are as compelling as testimony from those who helped build it:

God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains1
— Sean Parker – former President of Facebook

Social media is addictive

Social media is addictive by design — maximizing engagement is in the business model. Infinite news feeds and constant notifications are personalized to keep your attention, with no regard for your wellbeing:

Facebook and Google assert with merit that they are giving users what they want. The same can be said about tobacco companies and drug dealers.2
— Roger McNamee – Early Facebook investor and advisor to Mark Zuckerberg
Smartphones are useful tools, but they’re addictive. Pull-to-refresh is addictive. Twitter is addictive. These are not good things. When I was working on them, it was not something I was mature enough to think about.2
— Loren Britcher – Designer of the pull-to-refresh mechanism
Facebook is a fundamentally addictive product that is designed to capture as much of your attention as possible without any regard for the consequences. Tech addiction has a negative impact on your health, and on your children’s health. It enables bad actors to do new bad things, from electoral meddling to sex trafficking. It increases narcissism and people’s desire to be famous on Instagram.3
— Sandy Parakilas – ex-operations manager at Facebook

Social media makes you unhappy

Whether through addiction, fear of missing out, unhealthy social comparisons, negative body image, lack of sleep, or abuse; social media harms your mental health:

I check and I feel bad, whether there’s a notification or not, it doesn’t really feel that good. Whatever we’re hoping to see, it never quite meets that bar.4
— Leah Pearlman – former Facebook manager and co-creator of the ‘like’ button
When you open up the blue Facebook icon, you’re activating the AI, which tries to figure out the perfect thing it can show you that’ll engage you. It doesn’t have any intelligence, except figuring out what gets the most clicks. The outrage stuff gets the most clicks, so it puts that at the top.5
— Tristan Harris – ex-design ethicist at Google
A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average in a survey.6
— David Ginsberg and Moira Burke – research scientists at Facebook

Social media rewards negativity

Lack of oversight or consequences, increasing polarisation, and algorithms that prioritize negative emotions are slowly “making you into an arsehole”Jaron Lanier

The way AI is designed will have a huge impact on the type of content you see. For instance, if the AI favors engagement, like on Facebook and YouTube, it will incentivize divisive content, because divisive content is very efficient to keep people online.7
— Guillaume Chaslot – Helped develop YouTube’s recommendation system
Ultimately the problem Reddit has is the same as Twitter: By focusing on growth and growth only, and ignoring the problems, they amassed a large set of cultural norms on their platforms that stem from harassment or abuse or bad behavior.8
— Dan McComas – former product chief at Reddit
I don't know you. I'm not saying that you personally are definitely turning into an arsehole, but many people are, yet they seem to only see that many other people are. I've seen myself start turning into an asshole online, and it was scary and depressing.9
— Jaron Lanier – Godfather of Virtual Reality

Social media is manipulating you

There’s this idea that, “Yes, they can use this information to manipulate other people, but I’m not gonna fall for that, so I’m protected from being manipulated.” Slowly, over time, you become addicted to the interactions, so it’s hard to opt out. And they just keep taking more and more of your time and pushing more and more fake news.10
— Ellen Pao – former CEO of Reddit
We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers.11
— Jack Dorsey – CEO of Twitter

Social media is damaging society

The people who run Facebook and Google are good people, whose well-intentioned strategies have led to horrific unintended consequences. The problem is that there is nothing the companies can do to address the harm unless they abandon their current advertising models.2
— Roger McNamee – Early Facebook investor and advisor to Mark Zuckerberg
The dynamics of the attention economy are structurally set up to undermine the human will. If politics is an expression of our human will, on individual and collective levels, then the attention economy is directly undermining the assumptions that democracy rests on.2
— James Williams – ex-Google strategist
The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.12
— Chamath Palihapitiya – ex-Facebook vice president of user growth

Social media doesn't need to be bad. It doesn't need to be depressing, addictive, and destructive to society, but as long as it pays to sell your data, steal your attention, and incite outrage, then nothing will change.

The best way to effect change is to delete your accounts:

How to delete your social media accounts


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