Bill Maher on Social Media Tycoons Being “Tobacco Farmers in T-Shirts Selling an Addictive Product to Children” Seems Tragically Accurate

By B.N. Frank

Over the last few weeks, Activist Post, The New York Times, Fox News many other media outlets have been reporting about Silicon Valley parents’ increasing panic regarding their own kids’ use and exposure to screens.

Because of this, it seems worth re-sharing Bill Maher firing off in May 2017:

Bill Maher says social media tycoons should “stop pretending that they are friendly nerd Gods building a better world.”

Instead, the “Real Time” host has called on them to admit they are “just tobacco farmers in T-shirts, selling an addictive product to children.”

“Let’s face it, checking your ‘likes’ is the new smoking,” he said Friday.

Maher referenced a recent CBS “60 Minutes” report on the concept of brain-hacking.

Many similar complaints and observations have been reported since then – including from former tech designers, inventors, and investors.  While other countries – such as France – have banned advertising tech to kids under age of 12, marketing tech to children in the U.S. is not be only tolerated.  It seems to be increasing.

Even more despicable – psychologists are being paid to help create addictive software. From Vox, August 8, 2018:

Tech companies use “persuasive design” to get us hooked. Psychologists say it’s unethical. 

A group of psychologists say kids are suffering from “hidden manipulation techniques” that companies like Facebook and Twitter use.


While defenders of persuasive tech will say it can have positive effects, like training people to take medicine on time or develop weight loss habits, some health professionals believe children’s behaviors are being exploited in the name of the tech world’s profit. On Wednesday, a letter signed by 50 psychologists was sent to the American Psychological Association accusing psychologists working at tech companies of using “hidden manipulation techniques” and asks the APA to take an ethical stand on behalf of kids.

Of course, there’s plenty of blame to go around.  Even Sesame Street now features a character, “Smartie the Smart Phone” and allows their characters to be used in Virtual Reality programs for kids.  So, trusting them really doesn’t seem to be an option anymore either.

American children are also suffering from excessive screen exposure because most public school systems have adapted “high tech” curriculums and classrooms.  This has led to more horrible consequences and it will only get worse for kids and everyone else until more parents demand change.

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