A serious book, written with lot of passion

Book: Zucked

Author: Roger McNamee

Publisher: Harper Collins

Pages: 336; Price: Rs 599

In the middle of 2006, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, Chris Kelly, sent me an email stating that his boss was facing an existential crisis and required advice from an unbiased person. Would I be willing to meet with Mark Zuckerberg? thus starts the first chapter.

Further, the author, mentor of Mark Zuckerberg and a Facebook shareholder, Roger McNamee, went on to introduce Sheryl Sandberg to Mark Zuckerberg. And the starting line of ninth chapter is Andrew Bosworth’s tweet — “Who the fuck is Roger McNamee?” (Andrew Bosworth is currently Facebook’s augmented and virtual-reality vice president). The book is about the journey of Facebook and its chief Mark Zuckerberg and a lot more.

The author, having identified a number of instances of harm caused to society, none actually committed by the Facebook employees, but all enabled by the company’s algorithms, advertising model, automation, culture and value system wanted to meet Mark Zuckerberg. Even after several efforts, meeting did not materialise and the agenda points of the meeting became a newspaper article and as they say rest is history.

The objective of the author in writing this book is to serve as a warning. Make readers aware of a crisis being created by Facebook, help them understand how and why it is happening, and suggest a path forward. He succeeds in doing the same. The nomenclature of the book “Zucked Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe” is apt.

Emily Chang (author of Brotopia) is bang on when she writes “Roger McNamee is an investor with the nose of an investigator.” Book discusses in detail how Russians used Facebook to manipulate elections and role of Cambridge Analytica. How slowly the US government woke up to the issue and handled the whole issue makes for an interesting read. One important point missed out is, would the US government have acted against Facebook if it had meddled in the affairs of other nations and not

USA? And yes, the first country to ban Facebook was Sri Lanka.

Facebook had a profound impact on the human resource culture of Silicon Valley Campus and the reason pointed out for the same will bring smile on the face of reader.

Author also talks about the history of Computation, Silicon Valley and its development. Discusses Facebooks competitors like SixDegrees.com, Makeoutclub and Friendster and reasons of their failure. It also brings to notice the monopoly of Microsoft and Google and its harmful effects.

Last but not the least, the profiling of Mark Zuckerberg as someone who has shown a persistent indifference to authority and lot more makes one understand why Facebook behaves in the way it does. It is a serious book, written with lot of passion. The book’s acknowledgement runs into more than six pages which covers not only those who helped in writing the book, but also those who helped the author to bring the evils of Facebook to common man which includes ex-employees of Facebook.

This book is an important read for those who want to understand the harmful effects of social media.