ATG Book of the Week: Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe

by | Sep 12, 2019 | 0 comments

Title: Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe
Author: Roger McNamee
Hardcover:
ISBN: 978-0525561354, $28
Imprint: London, Penguin, 2019

 

“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…

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.”

 

Review

 

“A candid and highly entertaining explanation of how and why a man who spent decades picking tech winners and cheering his industry on has been carried to the shore of social activism.” —The New York Times Book Review

 

“A timely reckoning with Facebook’s growth and data-obsessed culture. . . [Zucked] is the first narrative tale of Facebook’s unravelling over the past two years . . . McNamee excels at grounding Facebook in the historical context of the technology industry.” —Financial Times

 

“[An] excellent new book . . . [McNamee] is one of the social network’s biggest critics. He’s a canny and persuasive one too. In “Zucked,” McNamee lays out an argument why it and other tech giants have grown into a monstrous threat to democracy. Better still he offers tangible solutions . . . What makes McNamee so credible is his status as a Silicon Valley insider. He also has a knack for distilling often complex or meandering TED Talks and Medium posts about the ills of social media into something comprehensible, not least for those inside the D.C. Beltway . . . McNamee doesn’t just scream fire, though. He also provides a reasonable framework for solving some of the issues . . . For anyone looking for a primer on what’s wrong with social media and what to do about it, the book is well worth the read.” —Reuters

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