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Matt Rourke, Mark Lennihan, Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

We all know that people have become addicted to their smart phones — and now Silicon Valley insiders say this is exactly what the tech giants wanted. Founding Facebook president Sean Parker told Mike Allen yesterday that he has become "something of a conscientious objector" to social media, joining the small group of insider voices exposing and criticizing Silicon Valley's operations.

The big picture: The shiny newness and mystery of Silicon Valley is wearing off. Inner operations of the most powerful tech giants are being exposed — Facebook pitches partisan data to help election advertisers, foreign actors can easily manipulate Twitter, and now developers have always intentionally designed apps to keep our brains addicted. The insiders who are speaking up are turning on the tech world they helped create — as if they're trying to clear their guilty consciences.

  • Here's what Parker said: "The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, ... was all about: 'How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'" He explained that Facebook's "likes" and "comments" notifications are dopamine hits, keeping addiction alive, "It's a social-validation feedback loop ... exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology."
  • Tristan Harris, a former product philosopher at Google who has worked at Apple, Wikia and Microsoft, has spoken out about how our minds have been "hijacked" by our phones.On 60 Minutes earlier this year, he held up his smart phone, saying, "This thing is a slot machine... every time I check my phone, I"m playing the slot machine to see, 'What did I get?' This is one way to highjack people's minds, to form a habit."
  • He added that "there's a whole playbook of techniques that get used to get you using the product for as long as possible."
  • Justin Rosenstein, who created the Facebook "like" button and helped develop GChat, has self-imposed limits to his access of smart phone apps because of their addictive properties.He told the Guardian: "It is very common for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences."
  • Biz Stone, who co-founded Twitter and recently returned to work for the company, has expressed some of his own regrets about how Twitter was built. He told Inc.: "We made a mistake when we added the Mentions tab. All of a sudden, you could see anyone who was mentioning you on the site. We put the onus on users to block someone."

Don't forget: These advocates for change in Silicon Valley once worked to create this environment, and many still profit from it. And that point isn't lost on the critics.

  • Ben Thompson, who writes the tech blog Stratechery and has worked for Apple, Microsoft and Automattic, tweeted: "Silicon Valley critics eating up Sean Parker's comments about Facebook because it fits their pre-existing views is certainly fascinating to watch." He has since deleted the tweet.
  • Hunter Walk, a former prominent Google/YouTube employee, replied to Thompson: “[W]aiting for one of our luminaries who comes to this realization to then also decide their fortune is dirty & donate all their money to social causes."

Reality check: Despite all of their issues, these companies are reporting record users and profits. And polls, including a SurveyMonkey poll for Axios, have found that they retain broad support nationwide.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

UN Security Council meeting on Israel-Gaza as fighting enters 7th day

Smoke billows from a fire following Israeli airstrikes on multiple targets in Gaza on May 16. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council was preparing to meet Sunday, as the aerial bombardment between Israel and Hamas between entered a seventh day.

The latest: Four Palestinians died in airstrikes early Sunday, as Israeli forces bombed the home of Gaza's Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, per Reuters.

7 hours ago - World

In photos: Protests in U.S., across the world over Israeli–Palestinian conflict

A protest march in support of Palestinians near the Washington monument in Washington, D.C. on May 15. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of people rallied across the U.S. and the world Saturday following days of violence in Gaza and Israel that's killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, and eight Israelis, per AP.

The big picture: Most demonstrations were in support of Palestinians. There were tense scenes between pro-Israeli government protesters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Winnipeg, Canada, and Leipzig, Germany, but no arrests were made, CBS News and DW.com report.

Updated 15 hours ago - World

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.