cover image Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe

Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe

Roger McNamee. Penguin, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-56135-4

McNamee (The New Normal), founder of the venture capital firm Elevation Partners, provides an informative guide, bolstered by a unique insider’s perspective, to scandals involving Facebook, particularly those involving the 2016 presidential election. He describes going from being an early booster of and investor in the site, as well as Mark Zuckerberg’s advisor—he counseled the Facebook founder in 2006 against selling to a larger company—to conducting his own investigation into Russian intelligence’s use of Facebook and urging American politicians to have Zuckerberg testify on Capitol Hill. He also discusses how Facebook deepens political divides, how tech giants use consumers’ data against them, and how conspiracy theories proliferate online. He makes the case for more stringent regulation of powerful internet companies and for a philosophical shift in Silicon Valley away from impersonal metrics and toward “human-driven technology, an approach not predicated on exploiting the vulnerabilities of human psychology.” The book is a little overlong due to some redundant and all-too-familiar passages on the dangers of social media, as well as some seemingly irrelevant autobiography. However, it succeeds as a comprehensible primer on the political pitfalls of big tech. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Feb.)