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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang unveil the tech story of our times in a riveting, behind-the-scenes exposé that offers the definitive account of Facebook's fall from grace.

Once one of Silicon Valley's greatest success stories, for the past five years, Facebook has been under constant fire, roiled by controversies and crises. It turns out that while the tech giant was connecting the world, they were also mishandling users' data, allowing the spread of fake news and the amplification of dangerous, polarising hate speech. 

Critics framed the narrative as the irreconcilable conflict between the platform's lofty mission to advance society by bringing people together while also profiting off of them. The company, many said, had simply lost its way. But the truth is far more complex. 

Drawing on their unrivalled sources, Frenkel and Kang take listeners inside the complex court politics, alliances and rivalries within the company, its growing political influence as well as its skirmishes with privacy groups and the FTC, to shine a light on the fatal cracks in the architecture of the tech behemoth. Their explosive, exclusive reporting led them to a shocking conclusion: the missteps of the last five years were not an anomaly but an inevitability - this is how the platform was built to perform. In a period of great upheaval, growth has remained the one constant under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Each has stood by as their technology is co-opted by hate-mongers, criminals and corrupt political regimes across the globe, with devastating consequences. In An Ugly Truth, they are at last held accountable. 

©2021 Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang (P)2021 Hachette Audio UK

Critic Reviews

"The ultimate takedown." (New York Times)

"The problem of Facebook is Zuckerberg. And the question posed by this splendid book is: what are we going to do about him?" (Observer)

"A comprehensive account...drawn from first-hand testimonies. Thoroughly engaging." (The Times)

"What marks this book out is how it gets under the corporate bonnet...to build a picture of astounding corporate arrogance and irresponsibility." (Sunday Times)

"An explosive new book." (Daily Mail)

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  • Leo
  • 03-09-2021

We need to talk about Facebook

The internet is a wonderful innovation that has delivered huge benefits. But it also comes with drawbacks & new dangers, most of which are exploited by Facebook to make a profit.

To me, this book makes a strong case for breaking up Facebook and regulating social media much more strongly across the world. It is a great piece of journalism & well worth listening to.

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  • Arkhidamos
  • 08-08-2021

Excellent

Detailed, cliché defying and fascinating. The one thing this book manages to finally smash home is that, far from social media being a reflection of ordinary opinions on a global scale, social media is simply a conveyor belt for corporate power. The money spent by Russia, as outlined here, is small beer compared to the truly vast amounts spent by tech geniuses building the tools to assemble the eyeballs ready for bombardment by pure corporate messaging, suitably crafted with every psychological and behavioural insight money can buy. No well meaning dissenters can counter the billions involved in that. Social media doesn’t just need to be broken up for reasons of monopoly, it must be protected from the corporations. Advertising and the privacy incursions that feed the targeting exploited by political actors (corporations and their mouthpieces) must be banned, and social media should be taken out of the hands of private individuals. We must protect the public sphere.

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