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Ex-Facebook and Google employees join forces to fight tech addiction

07 February, 2018, 01:31 | Author: Lloyd Doyle
  • Seat for life Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel with wife Miranda Kerr

Tristan Harris, a former Google employee commented on this issue and said, "They've created the attention economy and are now engaged in a full-blown arms race to capture and retain human attention, including the attention of kids".

The Truth About Tech campaign will get $7 million from Common Sense Media and the Center for Humane Technology.

The organization called The Center for Humane Technology was announced Sunday, in an attempt to reverse "the digital attention crisis" among Americans and "realign technology with humanity's best interests".

Together, they'll create a Ledger of Harms, a living document that helps engineers learn more about the technology they're creating for major companies. They also say they will unveil potential solutions to the problem.

The group - Center for Humane Technology - will also lobby for a bill to dig into the effects of technology on children's health. It even went to the point were mental health and pediatric experts had made a call to Facebook to abandon a developing message service that Facebook was going to introduce to children to ages as young as six years old. Several groups have additionally complained about YouTube Kids, which has featured unsavory content in the past, and Google recently implemented tougher screening criteria for YouTube videos to ensure that their content is brand safe.

The challenges to tech giants come amid a broader backlash from Washington lawmakers and from within its own ranks.

Fake news, foreign tinkering in the USA 2016 presidential election, and mounting evidence about how bad technology is for kids: it's all led to a tsunami of regret from those who helped to create the social media platforms that enable it all.


In December, former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya spoke out against the social network he helped to create, saying it is "ripping society apart". He later softened his remarks.

According to Common Sense, the "Truth About Tech: How Tech Has Kids Hooked" conference include talks on how digital distraction affects the health of avid tech users.

The CHT is partnering with Common Sense - a nonprofit that advocates for children and families - for the campaign, which is titled Truth About Tech. Another study had discovered that heavy users of digital media are 56% more likely to say they are unhappy and 27% more likely to be depressed.

"Tech companies are conducting a massive, real-time experiment on our kids, and, at present, no one is really holding them accountable", said Common Sense's CEO, James Stayer. The addiction could have a severe impact on kids, whose overall development could be hurt by this.

Employees at Facebook and Google are only allowed to ask out colleagues on a date once, and if they decline or simply reply that they're busy, asking another time can open them up to sexual harassment allegations and disciplinary action.

While tools are a start, some tech insiders feel that if Facebook is serious about making a change, it will have to change its business model.

Facebook said it is "is a valued part of many people's lives".

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