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Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe

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The story of how a noted tech venture capitalist, an early mentor to Mark Zuckerberg and investor in his company, woke up to the serious damage Facebook was doing to our society and set out to try to stop it. 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 The story of how a noted tech venture capitalist, an early mentor to Mark Zuckerberg and investor in his company, woke up to the serious damage Facebook was doing to our society and set out to try to stop it. 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 simply couldn't. ZUCKED is McNamee's intimate 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 is being manipulated by some very bad actors. Then there is the even more unsettling realization that Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are unable or unwilling to share his concerns, polite as they may be to his face. And then comes the election of Donald Trump, and the emergence of one horrific piece of news after another about the malign ends to which the Facebook platform has been put. To McNamee's shock, even still Facebook's leaders duck and dissemble, viewing the matter as a public relations problem. Now thoroughly alienated, McNamee digs into the issue, and fortuitously meets up with some fellow travelers who share his concern, and help him sharpen its focus. 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 the persuasion architecture of the attention economy more broadly -- to our public health and to our political order. Zucked is both an enthralling personal narrative and a masterful explication of the forces that have conspired to place us all on the horns of this dilemma. This is the story of a company and its leadership, but it's also a larger tale of a business sector unmoored from normal constraints, just at a moment of political and cultural crisis, the worst possible time to be given new tools for summoning the darker angels of our nature and whipping them into a frenzy. 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.

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The story of how a noted tech venture capitalist, an early mentor to Mark Zuckerberg and investor in his company, woke up to the serious damage Facebook was doing to our society and set out to try to stop it. 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 The story of how a noted tech venture capitalist, an early mentor to Mark Zuckerberg and investor in his company, woke up to the serious damage Facebook was doing to our society and set out to try to stop it. 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 simply couldn't. ZUCKED is McNamee's intimate 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 is being manipulated by some very bad actors. Then there is the even more unsettling realization that Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are unable or unwilling to share his concerns, polite as they may be to his face. And then comes the election of Donald Trump, and the emergence of one horrific piece of news after another about the malign ends to which the Facebook platform has been put. To McNamee's shock, even still Facebook's leaders duck and dissemble, viewing the matter as a public relations problem. Now thoroughly alienated, McNamee digs into the issue, and fortuitously meets up with some fellow travelers who share his concern, and help him sharpen its focus. 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 the persuasion architecture of the attention economy more broadly -- to our public health and to our political order. Zucked is both an enthralling personal narrative and a masterful explication of the forces that have conspired to place us all on the horns of this dilemma. This is the story of a company and its leadership, but it's also a larger tale of a business sector unmoored from normal constraints, just at a moment of political and cultural crisis, the worst possible time to be given new tools for summoning the darker angels of our nature and whipping them into a frenzy. 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.

30 review for Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Fascinating account from an insider on facebook. A few points I took away after reading this: 1. Facebook responds to every problem with a tech fix. The world is bugs to be fixed to "Zuck." 2. Facebook will sacrifice everything for increased growth and connection 3. Facebook knows their potential for harm and they seem not bothered by it 4. Facebook should not have so much power over our lives 5. This is the tip of the iceberg. We can bring down facebook thru regulation and the problem will still ex Fascinating account from an insider on facebook. A few points I took away after reading this: 1. Facebook responds to every problem with a tech fix. The world is bugs to be fixed to "Zuck." 2. Facebook will sacrifice everything for increased growth and connection 3. Facebook knows their potential for harm and they seem not bothered by it 4. Facebook should not have so much power over our lives 5. This is the tip of the iceberg. We can bring down facebook thru regulation and the problem will still exist in other formats 6. The medium IS the message. Facebook radicalizes people that would not otherwise be radicalized. And there is no intent to do so. The problem is inherent to the medium. And that is not a bug--it is a feature

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gayle Fleming

    I know. I know. You have nothing to hide so you don't care if your personal data is collected. The benefits you believe you derive from the big three internet platforms—Facebook, Google and Amazon far outweigh the information they collect about you. Well, dream on sucker. Seriously. This book is frightening in the way it explains how our personal data is monetized, manipulated and distributed in nefarious and unscrupulous ways. My eyes have been opened and I will never view Facebook as a benign I know. I know. You have nothing to hide so you don't care if your personal data is collected. The benefits you believe you derive from the big three internet platforms—Facebook, Google and Amazon far outweigh the information they collect about you. Well, dream on sucker. Seriously. This book is frightening in the way it explains how our personal data is monetized, manipulated and distributed in nefarious and unscrupulous ways. My eyes have been opened and I will never view Facebook as a benign entity that connects the world as I once did. The filter bubbles that Facebook creates with its algorithms and the personal bubbles that Facebook users create for themselves has served to drive us apart rather than bring us together in any meaningful way. This book tackles not just the dangers of the data collecting, algorithm manipulation of what shows up in our Facebook news feeds, and the tactics that are developed and used to get us hooked to the dopamine fixes we get from our addiction to social media and devices. it also goes into great detail about the dangerous role FB played in the Russian interference in the 2016 election and the complete hubris of Mark Zuckerberg in not taking responsibility for Facebook's role—think Cambridge Analytical—and his refusal to make any serious effort to clean up the platform to deter further bad actors from interfering in future elections. If you care about the future of democracy in the face of massive efforts to undermine it through the use of platforms like Facebook (primarily) Twitter, Instagram, etc. you owe it to yourself to read this book. I am not a really techie person but I found this book exceedingly readable even when there was tech terminology that I didn't fully understand. It is a wakeup call that we should all heed. The book doesn't just point out the problems. It offers real solutions and the author is actively working to bring about change that will curtail the monopolistic power that these platforms have over every aspect of our internet usage. It offers solutions to consumers about how we can protect ourselves from constant data collection that reaches into every aspect of our lives.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Blackledge

    Oh man I’m so cranky right now. I should not be writing while I’m in this mood. But Zucked has me all worked up. So here goes..... I hate Facebook. I super fucking hate it. But I used to love it back when it first started. It was so AWESOME to reconnect with the friends you lost touch with, learn about their accomplishments and foibles, share memories and see how old they got. And then everyone’s mom was on it, and you couldn’t talk about the time you took acid back in the day with you’re buddy becau Oh man I’m so cranky right now. I should not be writing while I’m in this mood. But Zucked has me all worked up. So here goes..... I hate Facebook. I super fucking hate it. But I used to love it back when it first started. It was so AWESOME to reconnect with the friends you lost touch with, learn about their accomplishments and foibles, share memories and see how old they got. And then everyone’s mom was on it, and you couldn’t talk about the time you took acid back in the day with you’re buddy because their nephew from Michigan could see the conversation, and just like that, the party was over. Worse than that. People started FBing you before job interviews and suddenly the whole deal was practically Orwellian. Question: how fun is it to have a discoverable, written correspondence, with old stoner pals, collage friends and exes, that your elderly relatives, your children, your students, your colleagues, your clients, your potential employers and like literally the police can read for like, forever? Answer: NOFUNATALL!!!! I think my last post was in 2009. I deleted my account shortly there after when I started working as a therapist. Not really all that into people (including clients) seeing all that. Yeah no! Never mind the fact that they can see all this. Anyway. All of that seems so quaint compared to FB 2019. FB has become the corporate death burger junk food of the mind, industrial scale purveyor of the toxic pink slime that’s killing the global body politic and the forth estate for good measure. Yuck! Facebook profits from the dissemination of disinformation engineered to elicit the toxic, tribalistic, polarizing, red-truth vs blue-truth Tower of Babel we call contemporary political discourse. Facebook profits from the socially reinforced virtue signaling self-righteous indignation and faux-outrage otherwise known as call-out culture. Facebook’s algorithms are designed to promote all of the above (and more) because it’s the down and dirtiest, quick and easiest way to increase “engagement”. Fuck them! DJT would not have been the the 45th POS-POTS W/O FB. That alone is a good enough reason to delete your account. But worse than all of that combined, is the way FB and Google are utilizing our data against us via filter bubbles, preference bubbles, digital behavior modification and targeted advertising. It’s as if the worst of caffeine fueled consumer capitalism married in-bread billionaire broham libertarianism, with Alex Jones officiating the wedding and Donald Trump giving away the bride. How did we get here and how the fuck do we get out of this sad messy state? Zucked offerers a fairly lucid account followed by a pretty dang reasonable plan. I honestly couldn’t put this thing down. At one point I even got so incensed that I actually switched from Google maps to Apple maps (for like 3 whole days). Anyway. That’s how compelling Roger McNamee’s argument is. Did it get me flustered enough to flush my Amazon and Goodreads accounts. No fuckin’ way!!! Only at gun point, and even then I’d still have to think about it. FB delivers everything I don’t want (e.g. infinite exposure to perpetual clickbait advertising and unboundaried contact with friends and family), so killing my FB account was an easy choice, and I don’t miss it even one little bit. NOTE: actually I didn’t delete my own account because it was so fucking hard to do, I just fucking gave up after like 4 or 5 tries and finally my angelic wife mercifully agreed to do it for me. And I’m a better man because of it. In contrast, Amazon and Goodreads deliver everything I want (e.g. literally everything in the case of Amazon, and endless one-way “conversations” about the books I read to look smart in the case of Goodreads). I remember waking around with a paperback addition of Thus Spoke Zarathustra in my back pocket when I was In college. You know? Just incase there was an opportunity to grab a quick page or two on the bus or at the cafe? Even at the time it was a sad and secretly humiliating transparently obvious theta-male mating strategy. Goodreads is like the digital equivalent, only without the unfortunate consequences of attracting a mate that would somehow find that compelling. So fuck off, and you can take away my A&G when you pry them from my cold dead hands! It’s a really good book, but it ain’t that good ;-) So.... In conclusion: We’re all fucked. Read Zucked. Five Stars!!!!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    Brand new TED talk (4/16/19) from the journalist who uncovered the Cambridge Analytica connection to FB. Both the British Trumpkins AND Facebook sued the journalists to try stop the truth coming out. FB is not neutral. It's a publisher that profits off of evil. https://www.ted.com/talks/carole_cadw... =========================== This astounding two-parter by Frontline is a must-watch for those interested in the FB debacle. https://www.pbs.org/video/the-faceboo... https://www.pbs.org/video/the-faceboo Brand new TED talk (4/16/19) from the journalist who uncovered the Cambridge Analytica connection to FB. Both the British Trumpkins AND Facebook sued the journalists to try stop the truth coming out. FB is not neutral. It's a publisher that profits off of evil. https://www.ted.com/talks/carole_cadw... =========================== This astounding two-parter by Frontline is a must-watch for those interested in the FB debacle. https://www.pbs.org/video/the-faceboo... https://www.pbs.org/video/the-faceboo... ===================== "Its first iteration, Facemash, invited Harvard students to compare photos of female classmates — photos Zuckerberg stole from online student housing directories — for the high cause of determining who was hotter. Yes, the world’s fourth most valuable company can trace its origins to the frustrated misogyny of an ur-incel. The moral vacuousness Zuckerberg displayed as a young adult should have told us something about how he and many other young “disrupters” intended to operate." "Hostile foreign intelligence services also love this platform, if only because its users have proved shockingly vulnerable to social manipulation — a dark art the company itself has admitted to dabbling in. In 2014, the company set out to learn whether it could make its users sad and angry on purpose. It learned it could. When this astonishing breach of user trust became public, the company claimed it wasn’t a big deal, that many companies did similar things. It was, and they don’t." https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/29/bo... Interview with the author.... https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/01/bo... sample of an ad run on FB during the election year.... https://www.mediapost.com/publication... ======== Sidenote: a book or magazine article I'd like to write would be: "Silicon Valley: It's Better to be Lucky than Good." There's a ludicrous degree of egotism here in SV that presumes the illusion of control. Timing and luck are everything. This has been true for a long time. The crummy IBM-PC benefited from timing. There were many more desktops that were much better, but ended up in the dustbin because they were too early to market. The cream does not necessarily rise to the top. Let me add a more recent example, Google. They deserve credit for launching a search engine, at the right time, that was better than what came before. But for the average user that search engine is basically worthless now because of search optimization (SEO). It's just one big ad instead of the valuable tool it once was. The irony is that it's this tool that allowed Google to establish itself in the first place so it could pursue its grand plan of invading our privacy to sell us shit.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lane Erickson

    astounding amount of filler; most of the book reads like a plea from the author to be taken seriously, where this is not necessary. the content could have been condensed to 30-45 pages without losing anything. not much to think about, at least if you are already familiar with tech

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    Be scared. Be very VERY scared about what Facebook (and Google and Amazon, et al.) are doing to our democracy - and our brains and how we are living our lives in general. This is one of THE scariest - and most historically important - books I've read in the last decade. I believe this book should be required reading for all Americans, though of course that'll never happen because - well, it's all explained in the book. I've got to sit and ingest it all before I write a longer review, but I'll be Be scared. Be very VERY scared about what Facebook (and Google and Amazon, et al.) are doing to our democracy - and our brains and how we are living our lives in general. This is one of THE scariest - and most historically important - books I've read in the last decade. I believe this book should be required reading for all Americans, though of course that'll never happen because - well, it's all explained in the book. I've got to sit and ingest it all before I write a longer review, but I'll be back.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gary Singh

    Here is the cover story I wrote about Zucked in Metro Silicon Valley: http://www.metroactive.com/features/Z... Contains an introduction and interview with the author.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    "My trust in Facebook has been misplaced." "The algorithms choose posts calculated to press emotional buttons because scaring users or pissing them off increases time on site." "Facebook is the fourth most valuable company in America and its value stems from its mastery of surveillance and behavioral modification." "Google put a fence around half of a public park and started commercializing it." "User privacy has become a pawn to be traded to accelerate growth." "Facebook allows users to connect to o "My trust in Facebook has been misplaced." "The algorithms choose posts calculated to press emotional buttons because scaring users or pissing them off increases time on site." "Facebook is the fourth most valuable company in America and its value stems from its mastery of surveillance and behavioral modification." "Google put a fence around half of a public park and started commercializing it." "User privacy has become a pawn to be traded to accelerate growth." "Facebook allows users to connect to other sites using only their Facebook password. This also enables Facebook to track the users." "To make its advertising valuable, Facebook needs to gain and hold user attention. which it does with behavior modification techniques that promote addiction." Facebook and Google were pretending to be neutral but they are filtering content in ways that are invisible to users." "It is no accident that Facebook's terms of service and privacy settings are hard to find and nearly impossible to understand." "Technology companies have devoted some of the best minds to exploiting the weaknesses in human psychology." "It is difficult to get a person to embrace an idea when his or her net worth depends on not embracing it." "Corporations like Facebook, Google and Amazon are making hundred's of billions of dollars off monetizing people's data." "Economic philosophy in the United States has embraced deregulation as foundational." "As consumers we crave connection. we crave convenience. We crave free." "Facebook collects data on people who do not use the platform and have no ability to stop Facebook without joining Facebook."' "Google's surveillance engine gathers more data on users than any other company. From search results, Gmail, Google maps, You Tube and every other app they offer." "There is no civic responsibility." "Companies that sell you a physical product are far less likely to abuse your trust than a company with a free product that depends on monopolizing your attention." "On Facebook information and disinformation look the same. The only difference is that disinformation generates more revenue so it gets much better treatment." 'We put tech on a pedestal. That was a mistake. We let the industry make and enforce their own rules. That was also a mistake." "We embraced the smart phone as a body part without understanding that there would be a downside." Technology vendors exploit the weakest links in human psychology to create dependency and behavioral addiction."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peter Mcloughlin

    Facebook and social media is something unprecedented in business and ordinary life. Namely, it is the melding of the two. People use platforms like Facebook to connect with people in our social circles both intimate and mere acquaintances. This is no mere billboard for social interaction but a tool to leverage our close and far social connection in ways that can turn a profit. It tracks who we are close to and pops messages that algorithms choose at us from our friends. This is not only a highly Facebook and social media is something unprecedented in business and ordinary life. Namely, it is the melding of the two. People use platforms like Facebook to connect with people in our social circles both intimate and mere acquaintances. This is no mere billboard for social interaction but a tool to leverage our close and far social connection in ways that can turn a profit. It tracks who we are close to and pops messages that algorithms choose at us from our friends. This is not only a highly surveillance oriented technology but also and intimately influencing on us with a lot of power both coming and going with our info. The Medium definitely Massages us and pushes us through all the psychological tricks of the trade in the direction the medium wishes to push us and our social circle. The fact that a large corporation wields this much-unregulated power is dangerous and creepily totalitarian but many of us have a hard time unplugging. 2016 was a warning and the way things are shaping up for 2020 largely unheeded by facebook. If old-time monopoly regulation was ever needed it is here.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Devogenes

    Alright so there's a lot of important information about Facebook and the digital corporatocracy in this book and it is worth reading for that and I appreciate the author's attempt to alert people to the dangers of the big data industry and social media in particular (oh hai Goodreads). I also get that this guy isn't an author, so some slack is due. But Jesus Christ buddy, I get it. You know Bono. You've been backstage at Grateful Dead shows. You're like, totally a normal music-loving rock and ro Alright so there's a lot of important information about Facebook and the digital corporatocracy in this book and it is worth reading for that and I appreciate the author's attempt to alert people to the dangers of the big data industry and social media in particular (oh hai Goodreads). I also get that this guy isn't an author, so some slack is due. But Jesus Christ buddy, I get it. You know Bono. You've been backstage at Grateful Dead shows. You're like, totally a normal music-loving rock and roll guy. That's great. I don't give a shit, this isn't supposed to be a biography. I get that it makes sense for the author to describe his history in tech to add credence to his criticisms. I don't need an entire chapter going over the people he knew in high school and that time he fell down once as a kid and what his favourite class was in college. You're writing a book about Facebook dude, focus god damnit. I was also a bit annoyed by the way McNamee has a tendency to represent himself as rather visionairy for cluing into the rot in Facebook early on, since he is, after all, so in-touch with tech. Except that 2016 was pretty fucking late, actually, particularly for someone who's supposed to be an expert. The negative emotion experiments were made public in 2014, for example. People have been raising the alarm about this shit for YEARS. I'm glad that McNamee and other industry insiders have come round but you're a bit late to the party. Those quibbles aside it's a book worth reading and I appreciate this bougie hippie-wanna-be for trying to wake people up to what's going on with these tech monopolies, even if his tone is at times utterly clueless. Oh and by the way he's like totally friends with Bono.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Juarez Poletto Jr.

    Important message but terrible delivery! I had two major problems with this book, first, it bored me to death, it compensates the lack of content and new facts to the story by repeating itself over and over. The second one, which made me abandon the book on epilogue, was that the fact mentioned about Brazil lastest election is incorrect, that's even worse, as I started to question everything else on the book. Anyway, very, very important message, just wait for a better book about the subject

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. More proof of the damage happening via Facebook. Of course I am posting a review of a book about the dangers of social networks on a social network site. Anyway I can hope more of this information gets out in the world.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amar Pai

    If you want to kick off Facebook without being all dramatic about it, do what Raphey recommends-- unfollow EVERYONE. I did this and now I never check Facebook cos there are no updates to see! You have to do it manually-- they don't allow you to unfollow in bulk, because they don't want you to do this. It took me a while. I unfollowed literally everyone, including my mom. (Don't worry Amma I still search your name once in a while to stay abreast) FB has limited utility for sharing photos and event If you want to kick off Facebook without being all dramatic about it, do what Raphey recommends-- unfollow EVERYONE. I did this and now I never check Facebook cos there are no updates to see! You have to do it manually-- they don't allow you to unfollow in bulk, because they don't want you to do this. It took me a while. I unfollowed literally everyone, including my mom. (Don't worry Amma I still search your name once in a while to stay abreast) FB has limited utility for sharing photos and events, but otherwise I've come around to thinking it's pernicious. It's overall a net negative for the world and our society. This book outlines the harms done but you probably know the gist of it already.

  14. 5 out of 5

    C. Patrick Erker

    I bought a copy of this book ahead of an event with McNamee at the Commonwealth Club. As often happens, the book found its way to my bookshelf but not to my hands as soon as I would have liked. But I found the book available on Libby as an audiobook as read by the author, and with a few hours on a bachelor party weekend that required two five hour flights and two 2.5 hour drives in two days, I had plenty of time to plow through it. The book is a must-read for those who care about the future of de I bought a copy of this book ahead of an event with McNamee at the Commonwealth Club. As often happens, the book found its way to my bookshelf but not to my hands as soon as I would have liked. But I found the book available on Libby as an audiobook as read by the author, and with a few hours on a bachelor party weekend that required two five hour flights and two 2.5 hour drives in two days, I had plenty of time to plow through it. The book is a must-read for those who care about the future of democracy, or who care about our kids and how they are affected by technology. McNamee's takedown of Facebook and its leaders is well-informed, fair, and impassioned but not overly emotional. As an insider and veteran investor, McNamee is well-placed to write this story. It's one that everyone who works at Facebook or Google must read thoughtfully. No doubt there is another side of the story, but it's hard to justify some of what has happened to our society on account of Facebook and its all-powerful leaders. Here is a shocking but true list of 25 reasons that the author of the article believes Mr. Zuckerberg should be fired: https://www.theguardian.com/commentis... Should so much power really be in the hands of one person? Co-founder Chris Hughes doesn't think so: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/op... It will take many people speaking up about the importance of privacy and of our rights to self-determination for things to really change. I love the bibliography at the end of the book, too. I started reading Franklin Foer's World without Mind right after finishing McNamee's tome. And I am in the middle of Valley of Genius, too. Really really important book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    The bad: repetitive, change in tone goes from casual friend to distant tech billionaire investor, and some dings to his credibility. While McNamee comes clean about his connections, decisions and involvements without trying to ''pick a side'' per se, at the end of the day it can be hard to read this entire book and find out that not only is he still ON Facebook, he still OWNS loads of shares in Facebook. I figured based on everything he says here, the least he could do is cash out and perhaps inv The bad: repetitive, change in tone goes from casual friend to distant tech billionaire investor, and some dings to his credibility. While McNamee comes clean about his connections, decisions and involvements without trying to ''pick a side'' per se, at the end of the day it can be hard to read this entire book and find out that not only is he still ON Facebook, he still OWNS loads of shares in Facebook. I figured based on everything he says here, the least he could do is cash out and perhaps invest it in some direct competitors to the big giant, or at least provide extra funding to push even harder for companies such as Common Sense Media and the Center of Humane Technology - they will both need to bring in lobbying (and dollars) consistently to Washington. Anyway, I digress. The good/great: If you aren't privy to Silicon Valley culture, this is a nice primer of how things have evolved (or devolved, in terms of user privacy). McNamee is an expert, he's well-connected, and he has a wealth of experience - enough to really bring home the points of how things have changed in an exciting, but perhaps unrestricted, fashion. My favorite learnings provided here focused on the value of human data, data privacy, and a layman's explanation of the recent Facebook scandals, including Myanmar and Cambridge Analytica. Trust me - you really don't know the intricacies of everything that happened - McNamee walks you through EVERYTHING. It was really eye-opening. Additionally, I respect that he offers some potential hypotheses to what future solutions could be, without being arrogant enough to claim that he has all the answers. This is an explorative book, a wake-up call to us as citizens about the importance of our digital footprint and civic engagement. Most important I found his stance, effort and leanings on antitrust for monopolies, and introduction of tech regulation. It is to a fault that a capitalist country leans so much toward distrusting all ''federal'' government that it does not trust a core, centralized body to work hard, albeit imperfectly, at protecting human interests and rights. Regulations work in areas such as health care, communications, etc. They are not perfect, but the idea is definitely to make sure that company incentives focus on the consumer and protect the populace. Tech is not, and should not, be exempt from this - especially considering its complete immersion in our every day lives. I could talk all day on this subject, but the gist here is that it's due time for fair market competitiveness (not dominated by Amazon, Google and Facebook) and regulations to make sure that user interests and data is treated with the same consideration and sensitivity as it is in the healthcare and law arenas.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chaz

    I would recommend skipping/skimming the first two chapters... Chapter 1 is really mostly about the authors background of white privilege, comfort and wealth to explain why he is qualified to speak to the ills of Facebook. Chapter 2 is basically an explanation of how the Internet came to be. So the first chapter I didn't care to know and the second chapter I already know. The meat starts with chapter 3 I guess, and the genesis of Facebook. But honestly most of this book is just McNamee navel gazin I would recommend skipping/skimming the first two chapters... Chapter 1 is really mostly about the authors background of white privilege, comfort and wealth to explain why he is qualified to speak to the ills of Facebook. Chapter 2 is basically an explanation of how the Internet came to be. So the first chapter I didn't care to know and the second chapter I already know. The meat starts with chapter 3 I guess, and the genesis of Facebook. But honestly most of this book is just McNamee navel gazing while periodically name dropping (Bono is his buddy apparently... He mentions it seemingly once per chapter) and plugging the rock band he plays in which you've probably never heard of. This book doesn't cover any new ground unless you have been living in a cave. Most of the chapters are ponderous and dry. The writing is competent. If you are truly interested in this subject, I would recommend watching the two part Frontline special about Facebook. Far more interesting in its presentation, far less self adulation, and it will take only two hours.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    An interesting book about the problems Facebook, Twitter and Google have created and how the government really needs to regulate them now. They have become so huge, that they can control the internet and buy up start ups that attempt to compete with them. Facebook owns Instagram and What's Up too. Problems have been caused throughout the world such as the Royhinga in Myanmar and the presidential election in the US as well as BREXIT in the UK. This book made it clearer to me why there is concern An interesting book about the problems Facebook, Twitter and Google have created and how the government really needs to regulate them now. They have become so huge, that they can control the internet and buy up start ups that attempt to compete with them. Facebook owns Instagram and What's Up too. Problems have been caused throughout the world such as the Royhinga in Myanmar and the presidential election in the US as well as BREXIT in the UK. This book made it clearer to me why there is concern about Facebook and other giants. He has high praise for Apple which he feels is conscientious about privacy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steve Peifer

    There are some good things in this book. I really didn’t understand filter bubbles before, and it was revelatory. The author is clearly smart, and he seems to be the Forest Gump of technology; his fingerprints can be found all over. Facebook is the result of the marriage of naivety, arrogance and surrounding yourself with people who think you can do no wrong. Zuckerberg has the smartest people on the planet working tirelessly to make you want to click on ads; that is where their resources were em There are some good things in this book. I really didn’t understand filter bubbles before, and it was revelatory. The author is clearly smart, and he seems to be the Forest Gump of technology; his fingerprints can be found all over. Facebook is the result of the marriage of naivety, arrogance and surrounding yourself with people who think you can do no wrong. Zuckerberg has the smartest people on the planet working tirelessly to make you want to click on ads; that is where their resources were employed, and they were blindsided by bad actors who easily manipulated people. The author made a pile on his Facebook investment, and as with many rich people, decides that what is next on his agenda is to pontificate his wisdom. The chapter where he grimly lectures his readers as to what their responsibilities are with social media is especially grating. I will give him this: If there was an Olympic event for name dropping, he would bring home the gold EVERY TIME. Count how many times he mentions Bono; it’s impressive. He isn’t a great writer but he is pretty sure he is the greatest. That ends up being a pretty dull read which is truly a shame. Facebook is important, but this isn’t the book that it should be.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pamela N.

    People have, at times, accused me of believing in conspiracies, or seeing patterns that do not exist, only to have the NY Times break a story, or an author publish an expose,' which inevitably explains more thoroughly what I had observed. Roger McNamee wrote the book that explains the phenomenon of the social media effect, and gives it's history, and describes what it means to all of us. And he does so in an interesting, and although wordy, page-turning manner. I felt compelled to read this book People have, at times, accused me of believing in conspiracies, or seeing patterns that do not exist, only to have the NY Times break a story, or an author publish an expose,' which inevitably explains more thoroughly what I had observed. Roger McNamee wrote the book that explains the phenomenon of the social media effect, and gives it's history, and describes what it means to all of us. And he does so in an interesting, and although wordy, page-turning manner. I felt compelled to read this book as fast as I might, looking for hope, but that is not offered. And to be fair, it isn't promised. This book is well-researched and documented, and takes us into the outter part of the inner circle to find out how this phenomenon came to be. How did we all become so dependent on Facebook, Google, and other Internet related experiences? How did we get seduced into giving away so much of our privacy, time, and sanity? Read this book and you may find some answers.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rhett Garber

    An important message, but really repetitive. Too much filler material.

  21. 5 out of 5

    S

    I had high hopes for this book, but I should have realized after hearing the author interviewed on a few podcasts that it would be a dud. On the podcasts the author is mostly self promoting, does a lot of name dropping, comes across as pompous and omniscient. And mostly the book is the same- its a lot of story telling about the author and his friends, mini biographies of influential people and how they uncover their theories and meet with congress etc. That said, there is some good content in he I had high hopes for this book, but I should have realized after hearing the author interviewed on a few podcasts that it would be a dud. On the podcasts the author is mostly self promoting, does a lot of name dropping, comes across as pompous and omniscient. And mostly the book is the same- its a lot of story telling about the author and his friends, mini biographies of influential people and how they uncover their theories and meet with congress etc. That said, there is some good content in here, but its suuuper repetitive, meandering, and not very well organized. It would have been much better if written by a journalist or a writer who worked with the tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, but alas that is not the case. About halfway through I started skimming, then flipping pages. I appreciate the general themes and the author's enthusiasm, but I didn't learn much new. A few things were new to me- the details on Cambridge Analytica, the horizontal integration of google, the true sliminess and lack of accountability in almost every tech company, a few tricks facebook has for manipulating emotions- but a lot of other things I already knew from elsewhere- the increasing extremeness of youtube videos, the Russians buying facebook ads and organizing fake events, filter bubbles. The author's recommendations for political and social action to stop facebook are pretty vague beyond "regulate more." (needed, but everyone's already said this) The only main takeaways for my behavior are to continue moving away from facebook (it truly is evil, a wolf in sheep's clothing), stop using google maps, and put my phone on monochrome because that will help make it less addicting. If the book had come out two years ago it might have been more novel and eye opening, but- it didn't.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Powanda

    Good book for Facebook haters like me, but I'm not optimistic about McNamee's proposed solutions (aggressive antitrust action and government regulation). In fact, I'm surprised McNamee, a multimillionaire Silicon Valley investor with elite friends, didn't simply fund a new social network platform based on humane design principles, user control, and GDPR-compliant data protection. Call it "Zucked." I would abandon Facebook and switch to Zucked in a heartbeat. Do it, McNamee. But maybe McNamee isn't Good book for Facebook haters like me, but I'm not optimistic about McNamee's proposed solutions (aggressive antitrust action and government regulation). In fact, I'm surprised McNamee, a multimillionaire Silicon Valley investor with elite friends, didn't simply fund a new social network platform based on humane design principles, user control, and GDPR-compliant data protection. Call it "Zucked." I would abandon Facebook and switch to Zucked in a heartbeat. Do it, McNamee. But maybe McNamee isn't the right person to write a book critical of Facebook. He's the guy who convinced Zuck to turn down Yahoo's offer and keep Facebook independent, which resulted in McNamee becoming an early Facebook investor. McNamee also advised Zuck to hire Sheryl Sandberg. In this Frankenstein story, Zuck is Victor Frankenstein and McNamee is Igor. But their relationship cooled. When McNamee warned Zuck about Russian interference in 2016, Zuck ignored him. Can you believe that? That slight led McNamee to write this book. McNamee, like Glenn Close's character in Fatal Attraction, will NOT be ignored.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ciro

    Old man yells at TV. Russians hacked democracy. We need regulation because people might read things that are bad. We also need free speech but we need it to be censored free speech because feelings could be hurt.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    Some good some bad If the author could have focused on Facebook and google I would have given him a 5 but his politics were obvious throughout the book. It’s unfortunate that everything devolves into bashing those with whom you disagree. It tainted the book

  25. 5 out of 5

    Willip Chen

    When you hear of someone who reasserts how Russia colluded, through a social media medium, to help Trump win the presidency you question everything else that comes from their 'research'. More baseless opinion that has already been debunked than anything nuance...don't waste your time with this book unless you're an extreme left-winger who likes to be surrounded by more alternate sensationalized news.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Could have been edited down to half its length, but still a worthwhile read due to the author's strange position as both tech investor and music-loving hippie. For example, who knew Nancy Pelosi took impromptu meetings backstage at Grateful Dead concerts? Also, delete Facebook.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jason Cihelka

    It’s so exciting to see lots of authors exploring the topic of “how social media is harming society”. Zucked gives a very in-depth look at Facebook (and other social media platforms), and how their business models depend on compromising our privacy and stealing our attention. It provides great commentary on recent news such the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Russian meddling in the US election, and the founding of the Center for Humane Technology. While I believe the ideas and facts in this book ar It’s so exciting to see lots of authors exploring the topic of “how social media is harming society”. Zucked gives a very in-depth look at Facebook (and other social media platforms), and how their business models depend on compromising our privacy and stealing our attention. It provides great commentary on recent news such the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Russian meddling in the US election, and the founding of the Center for Humane Technology. While I believe the ideas and facts in this book are very important, I only gave it 3 stars because it’s mind-numbingly repetitive. It’s to such an extent that I think 25% of the book could be removed. For example, the author says “Facebook doesn’t respect user privacy” at least 40 times throughout the book, to the point where it almost sounds “preachy”. The repetitiveness caused me to lose interest several times. If made more concise, this book would easy be a 4- or 5-star read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sabra

    Good, but wordy. I wanted to aggressively edit all the instances when the author would restate a concept. Different words, same idea, over and over and over

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    McNamee is a successful investor who pioneered tech funds, plays in a successful band, and used to mentor Mark Zuckerberg. He described himself as a tech optimist turned activists. He introduced Sheryl to Mark for the COO job. This book and his activity started because he was concerned about Facebook’s incessant pursuit of growth, which is harming democracy, commodifying users’ privacy, hate speech leading to genocide in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, teenage bullying, and addiction. He tried to reach o McNamee is a successful investor who pioneered tech funds, plays in a successful band, and used to mentor Mark Zuckerberg. He described himself as a tech optimist turned activists. He introduced Sheryl to Mark for the COO job. This book and his activity started because he was concerned about Facebook’s incessant pursuit of growth, which is harming democracy, commodifying users’ privacy, hate speech leading to genocide in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, teenage bullying, and addiction. He tried to reach out to his old protégé but was brushed aside. And McNamee was not someone you brush aside. As an insider and someone who has financial freedom, he is an extremely powerful adversary. He was instrumental in briefing the House and Senate, ultimately helping in bringing Mark to testify. Since McNamee is a insider and knows Mark well, he knows Mark’s modus operandi: apologise and promise to do better, while keep doing the same thing. Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to have access to millions of users and linking it to actual voter data to do targeted advertisement and allowed Trump to win. Facebook routinely allowed third party apps to collect data of users and their friends. It does experiments on users’ emotions with manipulation of what they can see. It creates filter bubbles of users, and allowed Groups where extreme views amplify amongst like-minded people. Except that sometimes the leaders are bots or foreign agents acting for other governments. It propagates fake news because people are more engaged with fake news and conspiracy theories. Everything is designed to engage the user and increase using time so that their attention can be monetised. Furthermore, Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon stifle competition because of their network advantage, billions of cash, and patents. They often buy out emerging competitors or simply crush them by copying what is offered. They destroy jobs and have no problems in creating dystopias where a few super rich people have all the money, and everyone else lose their jobs to robots and AI. Facebook used to allow organic reach for companies, but once they are hooked it made it expensive to do so. Google used to provide click per view; now it charges for simply displaying the ads. And then there is the white extremist attack in Christchurch which was broadcast live on Facebook and the Australian government has just passed a law threatening to fine social media companies 10% of their global turnover and jail their executives if violent content is not removed ‘expediently’... Oh wow. And I think Skynet is scary. Maybe we are already living in the Matrix! Many practical solutions are offered, and I am sure McNamee will continue to work to exert pressure on Facebook (Mark should have listened to him when he first reached out to him, I really think). He does not use any Google products. He does not post anything other than puppies and family photos on Facebook. He does not share any news. He deleted his history in Facebook. He does not use Facebook to log in any app. He turned off all notifications on his phone. He deleted his Whatsapp and Instagram. He thinks Europe is doing a great job in imposing fines on the tech companies and to enact laws to protect privacy of its citizens. He thinks that we should own our own social graphs, to be released to whoever we want. It is starting to work: Mark has just written an op-ed to say that new legislation is necessary for the internet, and Whatsapp has just announced we can finally control whether we are added to some random group. Meanwhile I do agree that deleting facebook on my mobile phone is one of the best decisions of my life! A solid 5 star book!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Frank

    Zucked is a sobering and important book for the stand it takes in calling out Facebook and major Internet platforms in how they are addictive by design, are eroding our privacy, and are susceptible to manipulation by bad actors threatening democracy. I especially appreciated the coverage of filter and preference bubbles and the explanation of how and why modern online platforms can contribute to self-perpetuating beliefs and tribalism. The author read widely about the subjects covered in the boo Zucked is a sobering and important book for the stand it takes in calling out Facebook and major Internet platforms in how they are addictive by design, are eroding our privacy, and are susceptible to manipulation by bad actors threatening democracy. I especially appreciated the coverage of filter and preference bubbles and the explanation of how and why modern online platforms can contribute to self-perpetuating beliefs and tribalism. The author read widely about the subjects covered in the book and included a rich bibliography for further reading. Even if you don't read Zucked itself, I've included below some of the organizations, peoples, and books mentioned so you can explore. By coincidence or not, just one month after its release, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg published a lengthy blog detailing how Facebook will shift to become more of a privacy-focused communications platform. ORGANIZATIONS Center for Human Technology Common Sense Media - Non-profit organization that provides education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children. Hamilton 68 New Knowledge - Information integrity company protecting brands and industries from manipulative online campaigns. PEOPLE AND BOOKS Adam Alter Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked Nick Bilton Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal Danah Boyd It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens Emily Chang Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley Renee DiResta Niall Ferguson The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook Adam Fisher Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley Franklin Foer World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech B.J. Fogg Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do Scott Galloway The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Yuval Harari 21 Lessons for the 21st Century Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs Nicholas Kardaras Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids - and How to Break the Trance David Kirkpatrick The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World Jaron Lanier Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now Steven Levy In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives Zoe Lofgren Bill of Rights John Markoff Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots Antonio Garcia Martinez Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley Satya Nadella Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone Cathy O’Neil Weapons of Math Destruction Eli Pariser Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles" | TED Talk - TED.com The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think Eric Ries The Lean Startup Brad Stone The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon Jonathan Taplin Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy Peter Thiel Zero to One Zeynep Tufekci Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest Tim Urban Siva Vaidhyanathan Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy Clint Watts Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News Tim Wu The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads

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