A group of early employees at Facebook and Google have banded together to counter the effects of the companies hey helped build. The employees are forming a consortium of experts called the Center of Humane Technology. Along with the nonprofit media watchdog, Common Sense Media, they are planning anti-tech-addiction campaigns patterned after anti-smoking campaign, that will combat the technology’s addictive effects, especially on children.
The efforts will be aimed at educating students, parents and teachers about the dangers of technology, including depression, which can result from the heavy use of social media. The ill effects of technology, especially social media, has become a hotly debated issue in recent months with some of the very same people who helped turn the companies into technology behemoths now becoming their loudest critics.
Chamath Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist and early employee at Facebook, said last year that the company was “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” Another former executive, Tristan Harris, alluded to the fact that much of the companies’ focus was on how to get individuals addicted to the platforms.
“We were on the inside. We know what the companies measure. We know how they talk, and we know how the engineering works,” he said. Harris is a former ethicist at Google and is now heading the new group.