Letters to the Editor: Facebook peddles addiction. Fine and regulate it like Big Tobacco
To the editor: Former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen’s revealing congressional testimony about how the company knew what it was doing to manipulate people’s “addiction” to the site has led me to greater understanding of how we might begin to deal with this problem individually and as a society.
If people are rewarded with a dopamine surge when they read something they like on Facebook, the brain develops a tolerance. In order to continue to feel that pleasure, you must have more and more intense doses. That seems to explain why Facebook’s algorithms keep upping the ante with what you see.
Helping people break free of this addiction is hard, but we have the tools to help. There are six stages of recovery: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance or relapse, and termination. Addiction treatment specialists are skilled in helping people move through these stages.
On a societal level, our country knows how to identify and hold the “pusher” responsible. The tobacco industry has been held responsible, as has the alcohol industry. Facebook must be held responsible, fined and regulated. Its leaders knew what they were doing.
Carole Lutness, Valencia
The writer is a licensed clinical social worker and addiction counselor.
To the editor: Should I be shocked to learn that Facebook’s leadership has put astronomical profits before people? Wouldn’t I expect that kind of behavior from Big Oil, the airlines, banks, drug companies, soft drink manufacturers and the fast food industry?
While I have no doubt that Facebook and its associate platforms spread division and misinformation, I have to wonder in this “Big Tobacco” moment who’s ultimately the responsible party.
An individual smoker bears as much responsibility for developing emphysema as Philip Morris. Likewise, as much as I’d like to do otherwise, I can’t very well blame Jack, Ronald and the colonel for being 20 pounds overweight.
I doubt very much that an act of Congress is going to remedy that situation, especially given that beacons of common sense like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) are members of that body.
David Sheehan, Redlands
To the editor: Haugen spoke truth to power, pulling back the curtain for the common good without consideration of her own well-being. She joins so many others — Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman, for example — who are called whistleblowers, a term that sadly has negative connotations.
From this day forth, any brave truth teller should be called a “person of conscience,” because that is exactly what they are.
Ellen Seiden, Manhattan Beach
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