Fight tech addiction: Facebook and Google

Former Facebook and Google workers launch campaign to fight tech addiction

By Olivia Solon

Campaign to highlights potential harm of digital platforms and social media on young people, alongside a call to regulate tech companies

Reformed techies have united to launch a campaign to put pressure on technology companies to make their products less addictive and manipulative.

“Truth About Tech” is the brainchild of the Center for Humane Technology, a group of former Facebook and Google employees dedicated to “reversing the digital attention crisis and realigning technology with humanity’s best interests” and is funded by Common Sense, a not-for-profit that promotes safe technology and media for children.

The campaign will include educational material aimed at families highlighting the potential harm caused by digital platforms and outlining techniques for mitigating the addictive properties of tech, for example turning off notifications and changing the screen to greyscale. There will also be a lobbying push around the issue calling for policymakers to regulate tech companies using manipulative practices and the two organisations will develop standards of ethical design to help the industry discourage digital addiction.

The Center for Humane Technology is led by former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris and former Facebook investor and adviser Roger McNamee.

“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 Steyer, warning that tech companies’ attention-grabbing business models may hurt “the social, emotional and cognitive development of kids”.

“When parents learn how these companies can take advantage of our kids, they will join us in demanding the industry change its ways and improve certain practices.”

According to research by Common Sense, teenagers consume an average of nine hours of media per day, while tweens consume six hours. A separate study by psychologist Jean Twenge found that heavy users of digital media are 56% more likely to say they are unhappy and 27% more likely to be depressed.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

I discussed this exact same story over at The Pursuit of Happiness. It's pretty scary that the earliest people are now fighting against it. There are all sorts of unintended consequences of our tech addiction, and we need to take intentional steps to fight that addiction.