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Social Capital founder Chamath PalihapitiyaSocial Capital founder Chamath Palihapitiya Flickr/Techcrunch

  • Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya said during a recent talk at Stanford that he feels guilty about what social media has done to society.
  • His former employer, Facebook, pushed back on the assertion that social media has a negative impact on society.
  • Palihapitiya took to his Facebook page on Thursday night to walk back some of his statements about Facebook and add more context to his remarks.

The former Facebook executive who recently criticized social media for “destroying how society works” is now walking back some of his criticisms after Facebook issued a rebuke.

“I genuinely believe that Facebook is a force for good in the world, so I’d like to expand on my comments before we break for the holidays,” wrote former Facebook vice president of user growth Chamath Palihapitiya. “My comments were meant to start an important conversation, not to criticize one company — particularly one I love.”

That’s a reversal of statements he made during a talk at Stanford’s business school from November.

When asked about the role of social media in society, and potential impact, he said. “I feel tremendous guilt.” Moreover, he said that he and others at Facebook were aware of the potential impact of the tools they were creating early on. “In the back, deep, deep recesses of our mind, we kind of knew something bad could happen.” 

Chamath PalihapitiyaChamath Palihapitiya speaking at Stanford in 2017. YouTube

His former employer, Facebook, uncharacteristically issued a statement in response after his remarks were picked up by multiple publications — including landing the front page of the print edition of The Daily Mail.

“Chamath has not been at Facebook for over 6 years,” the statement read. “Facebook was a very different company back then, and as we have grown, we have realized how our responsibilities have grown too.” 

Palihapitiya’s move to walk back some of his statement comes two days after his former employer, Facebook, issued its response.

But while Palihapitiya pointed out in his latest statement that he still loves Facebook and was looking to add more context to his early comments, he still seems to be striking a middle ground, standing by his assertions that the product he helped create has resulted in “unintended consequences.”

“In 2017, many of us have grappled with the unintended consequences of the products we’ve built. Social media platforms in particular have been used and abused in ways that we, their architects, never imagined,” he wrote on Thursday night. “Much blame has been thrown and guilt felt, but the important thing is what we as an industry do now to ensure that our impact on society continues to be a positive one.”

You can read his full statement from Thursday night here — and check out the original video from his Stanford talk that first landed him in hot water with his former employer below:

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