Book Review: Facebook – The Bare Truth

Facebook was launched in 2004 as a digital school catalog with a commenting feature. By the end of that year, the service had one million users at American universities.

In the spring of 2019, just fifteen years later, the company’s founder, CEO and principal owner, Mark Zuckerberg, traveled to summits with international government leaders to discuss Facebook’s role and mission in world affairs. As a representative of one of the most important power factors in the world: a private global audience with 2.7 billion users, with the capacity to generate impact and strengthen political views never seen before.

These are amazing facts.

This book helps me understand how amazing the history of Facebook is.

In Swedish translation, the book by New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang received the lame title Facebook – The Bare Truth. The original title reads: An Unpleasant Truth – From Facebook’s Struggle for Domination.

And the unpleasant truth – the central idea of ​​the book – is that Facebook is a tech-based media company that makes its money by building an following and selling it to advertisers. No more no less. Throughout its history, Facebook has prioritized growth, revenue, and automated content prioritization that drives “engagement” (like, share, comment). And just as unequivocally, they have been extremely reluctant and belated to intervene manually and editorially against false, misleading or violent content. This should also continue. Because the core business idea itself is like that.

Has the form The book is set as a corporate story, beginning in 2004 and ending today – amid the US competition authority FTC’s new attempt (second in a row) to force the Facebook group to split. in smaller parts.

This is elite American journalism of the finest kind: surprisingly deep and highly sought after, told with powerful elegance. And the subtitle’s promise to bring the reader inside isn’t overstated. Critics of business management are cited from internal discussion forums, and here the tensions between the programming culture at the headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., And the culture of political lobbying in the Washington office are portrayed – a office that is becoming more and more important as the politician of Facebook. the importance becomes more evident.

A common thread in the story describes how Facebook’s security service uncovered, mapped and documented the massive campaign of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election – before the FBI found out. But the company did nothing with the knowledge. The security service sent reports upwards to management, nothing happened. In the inner circle around Mark Zuckerberg, the priorities have always been clear, say Frenkel and Kang: technical solutions and how to make money from them. Publicist and political accountability are pieces of the puzzle that do not fit together.

Winston Ferguson

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