I would like to quote Paul Virilio here, "When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck" Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress. Im pretty sure the creators of social media did not intend to create the havoc which has now doomed upon us, when they started out during the internet bubble.
We are irrational humans, we have always thrived for social validation & attention. We want to be liked & loved. Everytime we move to new city / new office / meet new people. We try to mimic them just to fit in. We want to be accepted, we want to please people around us. You can take the example of UX Stack exchange, apart from the prior motivations of helping each other in the community & learning from there. There is a feeling of satisfaction & happiness every time someone approves of our answer / question. Why does stack exchange have badges & scores?
There are two ways to looking at this. One being where there is demand, there is supply. If this is what the user wants who are we to regulate on whats being given. If we start censoring / regulating the content that reaches the end user - we are threatening the sole base on which internet was built : Freedom. We can also argue, we have created this vicious cycle & now its difficult to break it. If we force it, people find other platforms to satisfy what they want. There is going to be an increase in underworld sites & forums - which is definitely not healthy either.
We can attempt to reverse this cycle. There can be a new guild of designers called Ethical Designers ( There is no scarcity for designer titles :P ), we can be the advocates for positive impact on users. We can have a check before the product is rolled out. See how it impacts the users over a period of time, there can risk scores. Which can be materialised by a system governing these principles. We would be a creating an internet-held government.
I have been toying around with one another way to solve this rising concern. In todays world our designs are responsive to only devices. What if we create a system where the application is responsive to user behaviour. Every product that is delivered to the user , does its most basic function. Utility based applications. This type of designing is not addictive - just like how we are not addicted to washing machines.