Roger McNamee was Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor in the first days of Facebook. Now he’s devoted to stopping the behemoth he helped to create – before it destroys our democracy.
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.
Roger joins the How To Academy to tell us about his 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 his 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. 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.
Don’t miss a masterful explication of the forces that have conspired to place us all on the horns of this dilemma. This promises to be a wise, hard-hitting, and urgently necessary account that crystallizes the issue definitively for the rest of us.
Praise for Roger McNamee:
‘Very readable and hugely damaging … This is a dangerous book for Facebook because it will be widely read ― apart from Jaron Lanier’s work, it is the best anti-Big Tech book I’ve come across. Its real strength is that McNamee knows how these attention- and information-stealing systems work.’ Sunday Times
‘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.’ – New York Times Book Review
‘[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
‘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
‘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