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The $50 million ad campaign against Facebook addiction

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The loose collection of former social media executives sounding an alarm about its unintended consequ
 
February 5 · Issue #76 · View online
The Interface
The loose collection of former social media executives sounding an alarm about its unintended consequences now has an official home — and a lot more money. The group, whose membership includes such regular Interface characters as Tristan Harris, Roger McNamee, and Justin Rosenstein, have created an organization called the Center for Humane Technology. Among its first projects is a significant advertising campaign. Here’s Nellie Bowles:
Along with the nonprofit media watchdog group Common Sense Media, it also plans an anti-tech addiction lobbying effort and an ad campaign at 55,000 public schools in the United States.
The campaign, titled The Truth About Tech, will be funded with $7 million from Common Sense and capital raised by the Center for Humane Technology. Common Sense also has $50 million in donated media and airtime from partners including Comcast and DirecTV. It will be aimed at educating students, parents and teachers about the dangers of technology, including the depression that can come from heavy use of social media.
The group also notably includes Dave Morin, who co-created Facebook’s platform API before leaving to found Path. Morin, who once gave an infamous interview to Vanity Fair in which he confessed to having a “night iPhone” to use once the battery of his day iPhone ran out, could make a credible spokesman on the subject of technology addiction. In addition to his multiple phones, Morin also built a social network that employed many of the engagement mechanics that the Time Well Spent movement now decries.
Morin is the latest high-profile Facebook executive to raise concerns about the company he helped to build. But lower-profile employees continue to come forward as well. In its story on the Center for Humane Technology, Bloomberg finds Joe Hewitt, a former Facebook mobile engineer who has radically restricted the amount of time he spends on the service:
“It definitely took a long time and much misery before I figured out where to draw the line,” said Joe Hewitt, who led Facebook’s early efforts to put the social network on mobile phones. Hewitt, who isn’t part of the new advocacy group, said he used to fall into internet rabbit holes, debating people online and scrolling through Twitter. Now he mutes all but the few friends on Facebook who share his interest in gardening, and he rarely posts anything outside the occasional Instagram picture of a home-grown fig or artichoke.
Harris and co. are in the middle of a significant media push; they appeared on CBS This Morning today, and were due to give a talk at the New School later in the afternoon. I’m more interested in their planned lobbying efforts than their ad campaign, although $50 million in donated air time could go a long way in advancing the Time Well Spent school of thought. 
In the meantime, the list of concerned former Facebook employees grows.  “One in four Americans are sounding the alarm and saying, ‘I’m worried about this service and how it’s affecting my neighbors and even me,” one of them told me today. “It’s kind of unprecedented. It took a long time before people felt that way about cigarettes. Tobacco has been around for a very long time. It wasn’t until people really understood the health complications, until the science caught up to the product, that we really understood the full extent of the damage.” 
Who said that? Check back in this space tomorrow.

Democracy
In Italy, Facebook will have fact checkers 'hunting' for fake news for the first time
Our Hackable Political Future
How Twitter Bots and Trump Fans Made #ReleaseTheMemo Go Viral
Apple removed Telegram from the App Store over distribution of child pornography
Ethics training reminds White House staff not to use encrypted messages for government business
What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State
Seattle Says Facebook Has Failed to Follow Law on Election Ad Transparency
Elsewhere
HQ Trivia Got Its Surprise Super Bowl Ad for Free
A Call to Cut Back Online Addictions. Pitted Against Just One More Click.
Targets of Fake Porn Are at the Mercy of Big Platforms
Super Bowl gambling with Venmo: extremely popular, mostly illegal
Facebook live video lands KC man in federal court and jail
Why Facebook is not rushing into crypto, according to David Marcus
The Rise of the Social Media Fembot
Launches
Snapchat adds new fonts and a do-not-disturb feature amidst redesign
Takes
How Facebook stole the news business
And finally ...
Super Bowl champion Nick Foles has a message about social media for all of you, and you can watch it at the link below: 
“Don’t be afraid to fail. In our society today, Instagram, Twitter, it’s a highlight reel. It’s all the good things. … Without failure, where would you be? I wouldn’t be up here if I hadn’t fallen 1,000 times. We all make mistakes.”
Alex Kantrowitz
Super Bowl winning QB Nick Foles' message? A criticism of social media and our FOMO culture. "We all are human. We all have weaknesses." https://t.co/Xj21MMLCLw
4:11 PM - 5 Feb 2018
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Ads warning about smartphone addiction? casey@theverge.com 
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