The billionaire and former Facebook president Sean Parker now says he regrets helping turn the social network into a global phenomenon. The site grew by "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology" with its greed for attention and the careful reward system it created to keep users addicted.
"We need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever... It's a social-validation feedback loop... a vulnerability in human psychology," he admitted to news site Axios.
Parker's backing was instrumental in turning the Harvard campus-only software into a global phenomenon by introducing Zuckerberg to Silicon Valley venture capital. (Parker was played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network.) As a reward, Parker was made company president, but only briefly – he was fired early on after being arrested for cocaine possession, although never charged. Parker retained four per cent of the company's stock.
His net worth is estimated at $7.8bn.
Parker was 15 when he met Shawn Fanning via the computer hacking underground, and the pair would later start Napster in 1999. Parker has subsequently become an investor in Spotify. His less inspired ideas include starting a Chatroulette clone and donating to a Political Action Committee created as a vehicle for the eccentric law professor Lawrence Lessig. Politico later described this as "money down the drain". We could have told you that before you opened your wallet.
A recent description of how social networking produces something like an addiction can be found here.