Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe

Book - 2019
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"If you had told Roger McNamee even three years ago that he would soon be devoting himself to stopping Facebook from destroying our democracy, he would have howled with laughter. He had mentored many tech leaders in his illustrious career as an investor, but few things had made him prouder--or been better for his fund's bottom line--than his early service to Mark Zuckerberg. Still a large shareholder in Facebook, he had every good reason to stay on the bright side. Until he no longer could. Zucked is McNamee's insider reckoning with the catastrophic failure of the head of one of the world's most powerful companies to face up to the damage he is doing. It's a story that begins with a series of rude awakenings. First there is the author's dawning realization that the platform has empowered some very bad actors. Then, even more unsettling, he finds that Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are politely unwilling to share his concerns. And then comes the election of Donald Trump and a parade of horrific news about Facebook's role in the 201 election. To McNamee's shock, Facebook's leaders continue to duck and dissemble, viewing the matter as a public relations problem. Now thoroughly alienated, McNamee digs into the issue. Soon he and a dream team of Silicon Valley technologists are charging into the fray to raise consciousness about the existential threat of Facebook--and, more broadly, the persuasion architecture of the attention economy--to our public health and to our political order. Zucked is both an enthralling personal narrative and a larger tale of an unmoored business sector inadvertently creating a political and cultural crisis with new tools that summon the darker angels of our nature. Like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, Roger McNamee happened to be in the right place to witness a crime, and it took him some time to make sense of what he was seeing and what we ought to do about it. The result of that effort is a wise, hard-hitting, and urgently necessary account that crystallizes the issue definitively for the rest of us."--Dust jacket.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2019
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780525561354 (hardcover)
0525561358 (hardcover)
9781984877895 (export)
1984877895 (export)
Branch Call Number: 302.30285 MCN
Characteristics: 336 pages ; 24 cm


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May 22, 2019

This book is mind-numbingly repetitive; nevertheless I recommend it because of the importance of the subject matter. Even if you aren't on Facebook, you're affected by the way Facebook affects users nationally and globally. It's not only about Russian interference; it's about "bad actors" using Facebook in exactly the ways it's designed to be used. And Facebook not only doesn't try very hard to stop them, it denies all culpability.

Apr 13, 2019

I think this would have been more interesting if it was summarized as a magazine article. I got tired at the overuse of “Zuck”, and am I the only one tired of Bono?

Apr 13, 2019

I don't think that there is anything in this that hasn't been covered in the news except what a great guy that he thinks that he is for having been involved. Also his interviews are more interesting than his book.

Mar 31, 2019

I was disappointed. The first half of the book is interesting but the entire second half of the book reads more like a resume for the author being the only one that understands and knows how to fix these privacy issues. If you followed the data breaches and congressional hearings last year there is little new here. OK, we get it - Mark Zuckerberg is a self absorbed very wealthy 33 year old kid that neither understands nor cares about the potential damage to democracy the platform he created has caused and will continue to cause, Sheryl Sandberg is just as culpable, and Google, Amazon and Twitter are also aiding bad actors but no one realizes it because they've all been overshadowed by Facebook's transgressions...

The "filter bubbles" have existed long before Facebook became ubiquitous. A significant segment of the country only tunes to FOX news everyday (or MSNBC) and is fed a continuous stream of biased reporting that only reinforces whatever position management has asserted in order to maximize profits. Before cable TV there were publications that did the same. Isn't this what advertising is all about (think Mad Men)? The issue is not that these one sided information/misinformation vehicles exist, but rather that people are too ignorant to take time to understand opposing viewpoints.

The author does make many valid points having to do with the pitfalls of technology, particularly the rise of mobile communications and its negative anti-social influence on young children. Facebook has made it significantly easier for bad actors and rogue nations to influence democratic institutions, but again if people would just come out of their cocoons and realize much of the information on-line is total fabrication the effect would be minimized. The answer is education. Maybe we need to start teaching children how to identify social media misinformation in grammar school.

Feb 12, 2019

Although I despise this phrase from the description: // . . . how conspiracy theories proliferate online . . .\\ I heard the author in an interview and it sounds like it might be interesting - - the investor/author mentioned how Zuckerberg [a Jewish-American who employs Jewish-Americans] hired an outfit called The Definers to create anti-Jewish conspiracies against George Soros. This reminds me of how one continuously hears previously attributed crimes to so-called // white supremacists \\ which have already been established to have been perpetrated by an African-American reporter fired from The Intercept, and a foreign national, a demented Israeli-Jewish teenager, both of whom called in the vast majority of bomb threats to various Jewish organizations across America awhile back [that Israeli teen called a number of them in the Northwest, included several to the Mercer Island Jewish Community Center here in Seattle].
Although no fan of Soros, for the same reason I am no fan of the Koch brothers, I do find this to be a most despicable action. Makes one wonder if Jeff Bezos was Assanged, given the recent news on the brother of his female friend being the source?!


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May 22, 2019

“As amplifiers of disinformation and hate speech, Facebook, Google, and Twitter have effectively abridged the rights of the peaceful to benefit the angry.” p. 245


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