Facebook officials have been compared to the Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels by a former investor.

Roger McNamee also likened the company's methods to those of Edward Bernays, the "father of public" relations who promoted smoking for women.

McNamee, who made a fortune backing the social network in its infancy, has spoken out about his concern about the techniques the tech giants use to engage users and advertisers.

Speaking in Washington, the former investor said everyone was now "in one degree or another addicted" to the site while he feared the platform was causing people to swap real relationships for phoney ones.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at Harvard University in May 2017. Photo / AP
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at Harvard University in May 2017. Photo / AP

And he likened the techniques of the techniques of the company to Bernays and Hitler's public relations minister.

"In order to maintain your attention they have taken all the techniques of Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels, and all of the other people from the world of persuasion, and all the big ad agencies, and they've mapped it onto an all day product with highly personalised information in order to addict you," McNamee told The Telegraph.

McNamee said Facebook was creating a culture of "fear and anger".

"We have lowered the civil discourse, people have become less civil to each other," he said.

McNamee said the tech giant had "weaponised" the First Amendment to "essentially absolve themselves of responsibility". He added: "I say this as somebody who was there at the beginning."

McNamee's comments follow those of another founding member of the company who attacked Facebook for "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology".

Sean Parker, the former president of Facebook who joined Mark Zuckerberg's company in its first months, said the company's founders intentionally built the site to consume as much human attention as possible.

Sean Parker's stint at Facebook was shortlived. He says the site was intentionally built to consume as much human attention as possible. Photo / Getty
Sean Parker's stint at Facebook was shortlived. He says the site was intentionally built to consume as much human attention as possible. Photo / Getty

Parker, who has made billions as an early shareholder in the social network, also criticised Facebook's effect on children. "It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other," he told newsite Axios. "It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains."

"The inventors, creators... understood this consciously. And we did it anyway," Parker said.

Parker, a former hacker who founded file-sharing website Napster, said he had become a "conscientious objector" to the social networking site. His stint at Facebook was shortlived, resigning from the site in 2005 after a cocaine scandal.

Facebook and internet addiction have been found to show up in brain scans in a similar way to drug addiction. Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, was found to have to have the worst impact on young people's self esteem, negatively impacting people's body image, sleep and fear of missing out.

Just last month former employee Justin Rosenstein spoke out about his concerns.

Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, has been found to have the worst impact on young people's self esteem. Photo / Getty
Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, has been found to have the worst impact on young people's self esteem. Photo / Getty

Rosenstein, the Facebook engineer who built a prototype of the network's "like" button, called the creation the "bright dings of pseudo-pleasure".

He said he was forced to limit his own use of the social network because he was worried about the impact it had on him.

He said it was "very common for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences".

Facebook is expected to see a decline in usage among teenagers in the US this year, according to experts.

The market research company eMarketer has predicted 14.5 million people aged between 12 and 17 will use it in 2017, down 3.4 per cent from the previous year.

- with Daily Telegraph