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Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe

Narrated by: Roger McNamee
Length: 12 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (110 ratings)

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Summary

This is the dramatic 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 three years ago that he would soon be devoting himself to stopping Facebook from destroying 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 realisation that Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are unable or unwilling to share his concerns, polite as they may be to his face. 

And then comes Brexit and 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, Facebook's leaders still 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 travellers who share his concerns 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, 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. This is a wise, hard-hitting and urgently necessary account that crystallises the issue definitively for the rest of us.

©2019 Roger McNamee (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Roger McNamee’s Zucked fully captures the disastrous consequences that occur when people running companies wielding enormous power don’t listen deeply to their stakeholders, fail to exercise their ethical responsibilities, and don’t make trust their number one value." (Marc Benioff, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce)

"Roger McNamee is an investor with the nose of an investigator. This unafraid and unapologetic critique is enhanced by McNamee’s personal association with Facebook’s leaders and his long career in the industry. Whether you believe technology is the problem or the solution, one has no choice but to listen. It’s only democracy at stake." (Emily Chang, author of Brotopia

"Zucked is the mesmerising and often hilarious story of how Facebook went from young darling to adolescent menace, not to mention a serious danger to democracy. With revelations on every page, you won’t know whether to laugh or weep." (Tim Wu, author of The Attention Merchants and The Curse of Bigness)

What listeners say about Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Everyone should read or listen to this book.

If by now you haven't become aware of how every snippet of data about you (and me) is and has been used to manipulate your emotions and to virtually predict your next move - and your next purchase - then you're still being misled by the silicon valley (and beyond) money making racket that is the Internet. This book really is one of the books that everyone should read (or listen to) and then make their own decision about whether to change their online activities or go on with allowing these giant organisations (manipulators) to play with their data. The way Roger McNamee discloses what he can in this book is masterful and perfectly structured to tell us what really goes on and his change of mindset about Facebook (as he tells in the book along with the word 'embarrassed') tells us he is on our side and no longer blowing Mark Zuckerberg's trumpet. This will tell you why there's a 'like' button, why 'Zuck' wants us all to 'tag' each other and why Facebook (and Google) code follows us around the web (even when we don't know it) and a whole lot more that we all need to know.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

A bit of a struggle to complete

There is a worthwhile story to be told here. However, it could be told more effectively in a fraction of the time. There is endless repetition, so much so that each successive chapter contains the same information, more or less, as the last.
It's all very one sided as well, constantly bashing the social media platforms for manipulating attention but never discussing their users agency. Are we all so easily sucked in?
The discussion of the strength of the monopolies these companies have created was powerfully done though.

3 people found this helpful

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Could have been much better

It's an important story, the evolution of Facebook and the things social networks do with YOUR data. The middle sections of this book, while going into interminable detail, detail this very well. The first 4 chapters, which are a mix of autobio and explain the author's early enthusiasm which led him into advising Zuckerperson, are largely forgettable, while the last few proper chapters give useful advice what the ordinary citizen can and should do to protect their data (though nothing like at the technical and even more useful level of Kevin Mitnick's 'Art Of Invisibility').

The book tends towards the dry. The author speaks clearly and at a good pace, but sadly his tone is what you'd expect from a primary school teacher reading to his class, which grates right from the start.

2 people found this helpful

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I might not be the right audience, but it felt informative on all the wrong points.

Just to get it out of the way; the book is quite repetitive. I get it, if it’s meant for people unfamiliar with the subject maybe it had to be. To me it felt off beat, but I pushed through for the few goodies in there. I think this book would have been brilliant if it was half the length.

2 people found this helpful

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Overall quite good if you're interested

I worked in the IT industry through the same period as the author starting as an Engineer and retiring as a Director. I would agree with the majority of the authors view but would say it's a very American view of the problems we face and being British and working for large European and American corporations I think he is wide of the mark in some of international aspects of the issue. However that does not devalue a well researched and well presented work.

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If you have a facebook account read this now.

This mainly covers Facebook but also the other apps that people use daily and gives a really informed appraisal of their destructive effect on society around the world. This should be required reading for politicians and decision makers and anyone with a social conscience.
I have never felt the urge to review a book before but the writer needs to be heard more widely for all our sakes.

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awsome

this book is probably one of the most powerful books that I have listened to on Audible. it is regarding social media and their collection of data to influence the population. Mark Zuckerberg well be the most powerful man in the world.

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Very good insight into how FB/Mark Z. works

Really enjoyed it. Feels a bit paranoid on Russia and pro Democrats vs. Trump, but good listen overall (i.e. the point is that anyone can use FB tools to influence opinions, democrats too and have in the last - Obama)

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If this doesn't scare you.....

Are you sleep walking into a digital dystopia? If you rely on Facebook for all your news, communication and entertainment, then yes; you are.

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  • Jaydson Gomes
  • 10-01-20

The best-titled book ever

Following another great Guilherme Felitti’s (https://twitter.com/gfelitti) tip in his excellent podcast, Tecnocracia (https://spoti.fi/2VzouG5), this time I bring the review of the best-titled book ever: Zucked 😂
For those who don’t get it, “Zucked” is a joke with Mark Zuckerberg’s name, who is called Zuck, with the term “Fucked”, which actually defines well the current moment on the Internet and much of it is thanks to Zuck.

Before we talk about the book itself, it’s worth talking about the author, Roger McNamee.
McNamee is a business man, more precisely, Roger is an investor.
He founded Elevation Partners, a famous investment fund cofounded by Bono (U2) and participated in big business in the 2000s.
McNamee is one of those people who witnessed the rise of Silicon Valley, and not only that, he also helped build it.
So far so good, we could say that McNamee is just one more of Silicon Valley guys, but McNamee is a little more than that, and that caught my attention.
In addition to investing, McNamee is a musician, having founded Flying Other Brothers and also Moonalice.
Early in the book, he says that his musician skills have opened the door to Silicon Valley and a career in the business world.
But what made an eccentric investor musician write a book about the problems Facebook brought to society?
McNamee is also alert to issues related to privacy, net neutrality, and the impacts of technology on society.
But beyond that, McNamee has a distinguished track record and can speak properly about Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, as besides being a Facebook investor, he was also Zuck’s advisor at a troubled time in the life of the “poor” Silicon Valley boy.
McNamee’s advice made Facebook what it is today. At the time, Zuck denied numerous billionaire proposals and bet everything on his young company.

The author stresses a certain “genius”, if we may call it, Zuckerberg.
At the very least, this guy in his early twenties was unusual, in McNamee’s words.
Zuck seemed to have the experience of someone much older, and strongly advocated the mission of “connecting people.”
McNamee also points out that Zuck, despite being the classic nerd, had characteristics that set him apart from the vast majority.
Right in the first chapter, entitled “The strangest meeting ever,” McNamee says that on his first meeting with Zuck, after a complex question, Zuck stood thinking for countless minutes, which generated embarrassing discomfort in McNamee.
This meeting marked their relationship as it paved the way for Zuck to listen to advice and reflect on the moment he was living on Facebook.

McNamee tells stories of pre-Facebook Silicon Valley and it’s really cool to see this view of someone who was there.
What caught my attention was the history connection McNamee makes to show us the state is needed and must work and follow the market.
It’s nice to see this coming from an assumed and successful capitalist.
McNamee tells how the invention of the transistor can teach us a lot about the tech world.
Who invented the transistor was Bell Labs. The first computers developed by IBM were not possible without transistors, and if antitrust laws at the time were not rigid enough, Bell Labs could have monopolized the transistor, so IBM would not have invented its first computeres.
The same happened with IBM. Microsoft could only get in the game through antitrust laws that prevent IBM’s monopoly, allowing Microsoft to revolutionize the world with personal computers.
And history repeats again.
Microsoft has gone through the same antitrust process, and once again thanks to antitrust laws, today we have Google, Facebook, and the entire Internet ecosystem.
McNamee warns us that we are once again in the same loop, as today’s technology giants are creating monopolies that do not favor competition and again we need antitrust laws to be invoked.
Just take a moment and search for it, you’ll see the amount of processes involving Google and Facebook.
Let’s wait.

McNamee is very critical of Zuckerberg and Facebook’s model of “Move Fast and Break Things”.
I agree 100%, especially when we talk about breaking political and democratic systems, which in fact was what has happened in recent years.
This culture is too toxic and coupled with the fact that the Facebook culture is that there are no individuals, but teams, so you never have anyone to blame.

The author also comments on the Cambridge Analytica scandal and all its impact on discussions about privacy and democracy.
Another important point is that McNamee is a very influential person and he has been using this “power” to take effective actions.
In the book he tells of his numerous meetings with representatives of the US government, large companies, etc., showing his point of view on the impact of technology on society.
From what I’ve seen, he’s doing great, and that’s very good for everyone.

In conclusion, this is an excellent book that not only shows the behind-the-scenes creation of one of the largest and most influential companies ever, but also shows the devastating impact of it.
With all its magnitude, some ingenuity in some points, arrogance in others, Facebook is undoubtedly one of the biggest contributors to the total chaos we live in today, where post-truth is the norm.
I strongly recommend reading not only this book, but all that is cited by the author throughout the chapters.
Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe is already one of my favorite books of recent years 😊

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-05-19

Very Disappointing

The performance is painfully slow, that may not be an issue, but it points for another concern: the book is unnecessarily long. The text is too much repetitive. This is not the place to debate the content, but some concerns must be prompted: the argument is littered with hypothesis, plenty of the argument is naive. It is not a total loss, but this book strikes me more like a cheering chant to those discontented with social media. The "Apple fandom" is also annoying. The most troublesome thing about this kind of books on technology hazards is how little of the programming problem at scale the authors seem to grasp.

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  • Deepak Kulkarni
  • 12-03-19

Very Engaging and thought provoking...

Very insight full, and enlightening. How could Hman Beings be taken for a Ride!! A very candid picture of Power of net.