The man who created Facebook’s “like” button has removed the app from his phone due to fears over the psychological effects of social media.
Justin Rosenstein, 34, who worked for the company as an engineer, said that the thumbs-up feature brought only “bright dings of pseudo pleasure”.
Former employees in Silicon Valley have warned of the dangerous effects of the so-called “attention economy”, where companies fight to gain people’s attention in order to harvest more data which can be used to sell advertising.
The “like” feature, which was introduced ten years ago, is at the heart of this trend, increasing users’ engagement on Facebook while harvesting information on their preferences.
Critics fear that constant distraction from technology seriously affects people’s ability to focus and also damages their relationships.
“It is very common for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences,” Mr Rosenstein told the Guardian. “One reason I think it is particularly important for us to talk about this now is that we may be the last generation that can remember life before.”