Former insiders launch awareness campaign to warn users about the addictive dangers of Facebook and Google

Former employees of Google and Facebook are campaigning to warn users about the addictive dangers posed by social media networks like Google and Facebook, according to a Daily Mail Online report.

Tristan Harris, who was a former in-house ethicist at Google, is leading the new group called the Center for Humane Technology which campaigns to raise awareness about the negative effects of smartphones and social media, especially to children and younger users. The group launched an awareness campaign called “The Truth About Tech.”

Together with the nonprofit media watchdog organization Common Sense Media, the group plans to lobby the U.S. government over tech addiction. Moreover, it is tackling an advertising campaign directed to 55,000 public schools in the U.S. to warn parents, students, and teachers over its concerns, which include the mental health effects of social media overuse, such as depression, stress, anxiety, self-image, and self-worth. The group also aims to address more broader problems that technology brings, such as its strong influence in relationships and people’s political beliefs.

Another former high profile figure of a technology company has expressed concerns over its products in December. Chamath Palihapitiya, a former executive of Facebook, also took a stand against the social media company that he helped to build. He said that Facebook is “ripping society.” Palihapitiya joined the company in 2007 and became its Vice President for user growth. He feels guilty for Facebook’s influence and manipulation to its users. Moreover, he advised users to pause from using social media. (Related: Social media mind games: Psychologist reveals Facebook’s manipulation tactics to keep you hooked (and what you can do about it).)

“We were on the inside. We know what the companies measure. We know how they talk, and we know how the engineering works,” Harris told the New York Times, as cited by Daily Mail Online. “The largest supercomputers in the world are inside of two companies — Google and Facebook — and where are we pointing them? We’re pointing them at people’s brains, at children.”

Even Facebook itself has acknowledged that the site may negatively affect democracy through the spread of fake news. In fact, its executives said in a series of blog posts on January that it was “far too slow” in determining negative effects that occurred during the 2016 U.S. election. They cited Russian interference, “toxic discourse,” and the “dangerous consequences” of misinformation.

The hazards of social media

Social media has changed the way people communicate and interact with one another. However, it also has consequences that users encounter. Here are some of the dangers of social media use.

  • Mental health issues – Instagram is the most damaging social media platform on mental health, based on a survey of 1,500 teenagers and young adults by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement (YHM) in the U.K. It was found to cause extreme anxiety and depression.
  • Compromised privacy – Whenever you go online, you compromise your privacy by disclosing your personal information.
  • Risks for the young and credulous – Young people use social media now more than ever in the past. In fact, approximately 91 percent of individuals aged 16 to 24 use the internet for social networking. Most of them share their personal information without second thoughts or knowing what harm it may bring them.

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