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This article was published on January 20, 2018

Apple CEO becomes latest tech bigwig to warn of social media’s dangers

Apple CEO becomes latest tech bigwig to warn of social media’s dangers
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is the latest in a series of tech entrepreneurs and c-level executives to warn of the potential risks of social media.

Speaking in the UK on Friday, Cook said:

I don’t have a kid, but I have a nephew that I put some boundaries on. There are some things that I won’t allow; I don’t want them on a social network.

He didn’t stop at social media. Cook also said he didn’t believe in the idea that the best technologies are those we become obsessed with. “I don’t believe in overuse [of technology]. I’m not a person that says we’ve achieved success if you’re using it all the time,” he said. “I don’t subscribe to that at all.”

Cook joins a multitude of tech personalities in recent years worrying about the negative impact of technology, and social media in particular, on our lives. Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, admitted last year that he’d helped Mark Zuckerberg build “a monster,” stating: “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

Another former Facebook exec, Chamath Palihapitiya, told a group at Stanford Graduate School of Business that the social  network could be “destroying how society works” through “short-term, dopamine-driven, feedback loops.”

The two are far from alone in their concern about the effect of social media on our daily lives.

Facebook, for its part, has publicly stated it wants to help. After ending 2017 with an attempt to lure ever-younger children into its ecosystem, CEO Mark Zuckerberg now says he wants to “fix these important issues.”

The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent. … We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools.

It’s a good first step. For now, though, it’s just talk. Zuckerberg has yet to release a timeline or a roadmap stating how he’s going to address any of these issues. Or, more plainly, which of the social network’s numerous problems he plans to tackle first.

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