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Zucked

Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe
Written by: Roger McNamee
Narrated by: Roger McNamee
Length: 12 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2019 Roger McNamee (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“McNamee’s work is both a first-rate history of social media and a cautionary manifesto protesting their often overlooked and still growing dangers to human society.” (Booklist)

“Regardless of where you stand on the issue, you'll want to see why one of Facebook's biggest champions became one of its fiercest critics.” (Business Insider)

“A comprehensible primer on the political pitfalls of big tech.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A frightening view behind the scenes of how absolute power and panoptic technologiescan corrupt our politics and civic commons in this age of increasing-returns monopolies.Complementing Jaron Lanier’s recent warnings with a clear-eyed view of politics,antitrust, and the law, this is essential reading for activists and policymakers as we workto preserve privacy and decency and a civil society in the internet age.” (Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, creator of the Berkeley Unix operating system)

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  • Brad
  • 2019-02-06

IT'S ALL HERE.

I got a Facebook account back in 2009. I only had it for a number of months when I started noticing subtle little things about it that creeped me out. I decided to delete my account and found out that deleting a Facebook account was far from intuitive, and the procedure constantly changes. This creeped me out still further. I eventually deleted it. Then curiosity got the better of me (either that or peer pressure) when, after 6 years had gone by and Facebook was not only still around, but was by then ubiquitous, I signed up again with a new account. The second experience was even creepier and lasted only 4 days. The antisocial aspect of "Social Media" seemed so obvious to me; you could say I became The Man Without A Facebook.

Since 2015, I've been waiting for THIS book. I've even ordered a couple of print editions to give people I know -- to tell them "See! See! You've got to get off Facebook (and all it's other so-called products!"). About only thing keeping this book from achieving perfection is about halfway into chapter 2, McNamee, bless 'em, slipped and began a sentence with the dreaded "That said,". I decided to overlook this otherwise fatal flaw... this time.

A "must read".

6 of 13 people found this review helpful