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‘Addictive’ Facebook should be regulated like tobacco, says tech boss

Addictive technology products like Facebook should be subject to government regulations in the same way as cigarettes, one executive believes.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said its time for governments to take greater involvement in protecting the public from tech addiction.

The cloud computing boss told CNBC: “I think you’d do it exactly the same way you regulated the cigarette industry: here’s a product, cigarettes, they’re addictive, they’re not good for you, maybe there’s all kinds of forces trying to get you to do certain things. There’s a lot of parallels.”

“I think that for sure, technology has addictive qualities that we have to address, and that product designers are working to make those products more addictive and we need to rein that back.”

His comments come with Facebook in self-reflective mode over it’s impact on society, both positive and negative.

The company recently admitted it may not have been a positive force for democracy, while it also recently published a report admitting use of the service can have a negative affect on mental health.

“In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward,” David Ginsberg, Director of Research, and Moira Burke, Research Scientist at Facebook wrote.

Facebook has also faced stinging criticism from some former executives. Former VP of user growth Chamath Palihapitiya said the social network was “ripping apart” the social fabric.

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth,” he said.

Related: How to delete your Facebook account permanently

The company is currently altering its news feed algorithms to show more updates from friends, in an attempt to create more meaningful interactions between people.

We’re not sure whether that will do much to help people feel less addicted to social media.

For what it’s worth, by far the top performing Facebook story on TrustedReviews is the one where we explain how to permanently delete accounts.

It’s clear that plenty of people are looking for a way out.

Do you feel addicted to Facebook? What steps have you taken to address the issue? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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