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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 (37 ratings)

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Publisher's 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 members say

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Changed my life.

This book has changed the way I use and interact with all internet connected devices.
And I always love when a book is read by the author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Riveting, thought provoking and timely

Exceptional technical delivery by the author/narrator. Is the first Audiobook I’ve listened to where I was able to listen start to finish at 2x.

The very good... considerable detail on the damage caused by Social Media and some of the causes.

The not so good... advertisers/advertising in and of itself is let off the hook... despite their money and clients being the support structure underpinning Social Media and their increasingly poor behavior.

It is advertisers after all that benefit most from the manipulation machines... be it political actors, gambling companies, junk food providers etc... that is getting users of these platforms to largely buy in to messages, services and products that fir the most part they neither want nor need.

A focus on the damage ‘that’ has been caused (such as the connection between advertising of processed foods and obesity related deaths) would have helped provide more perspective to just how harmful these platforms are.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Too repetitive

It was very interesting but I felt it went on and on about the same thing chapter after chapter.

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gently damning

I can see clearly now how filtered we are. let's get offline. bye Facebook. coffee, anyone?

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Eye opening

It was hard to get into at first. But persevere the insights and revelations are astounding

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-05-2019

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
  • 12-03-2019

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.

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  • Martin Koss
  • 09-02-2019

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Groucho
  • 01-04-2019

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • old geek
  • 07-07-2019

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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  • Shorty
  • 01-05-2019

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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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ivan
  • 25-03-2019

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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  • Mr
  • 12-03-2019

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.