Zucked

Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe
Narrated by: Roger McNamee
Length: 12 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (401 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best seller about a noted tech venture capitalist, early mentor to Mark Zuckerberg, and Facebook investor, who wakes up to the serious damage Facebook is doing to our society - and sets out to try to stop it.

If you had told Roger McNamee even three years ago that he would soon be devoting himself to stopping Facebook from destroying our 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 realization that Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are unable or unwilling to share his concerns, polite as they may be to his face. 

And then comes 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, even still Facebook's leaders 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 travelers who share his concern 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, just 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. Like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, Roger McNamee happened to be in the right place to witness a crime, and it took him some time to make sense of what he was seeing and what we ought to do about it. The result of that effort is a wise, hard-hitting, and urgently necessary account that crystallizes the issue definitively for the rest of us.

©2019 Roger McNamee (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“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.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“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)

“[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)

What listeners say about Zucked

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Important story made almost unbearable

This is an interesting and important story and the author certainly has the credentials and inside knowledge to make the story believable and relevant, but Audible should rethink allowing authors to read their own work. I have attempted to listen to several books read by the authors and have found the experience trying at best. This is the first time I have felt compelled to write a review mentioning this issue, but Roger McNamee's "Mr Rogers" voice and speaking style was a chore to endure. The public needs to know the dangers of social media and Facebook in particular, so it would be wonderful if a professional reader could present this book.

20 people found this helpful

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The worst performance. Unbearable.

Just read it. The reading style is terrible the worst ever. Audible should control this better

9 people found this helpful

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Some words of warning about Facebook

I recently decided to get off Facebook, due to the events of the 2016 election, Cambridge Analytica, and, more recently, their "friendly fraud" scandal. This book confirmed my worries about the company and social media in general.

While the author takes Zuck and Sandberg to task, he still is somewhat apologetic for their misdeeds, perhaps because he knows them personally.

The book could have been shortened by about 20 percent, but some of the best parts were the addenda at the end. I really liked the bibliographic essay. More authors should do those for audiobooks!

All in all, a solid book.

7 people found this helpful

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Must Read

His background is left leaning and comes from the “Hippy” generation. The good news is he is very open about his own background and influences. He is reasonably fair and balanced but praises and communicates with people like George Soros, Adam Shiff, Nancy Pelosi and other leftists but does not speak of any of the major players on the right. He does not like Trump but offers no criticism of those alternatives on the left. I recommend reading and considering his recommendations especially as they relate to our children & grandchildren

12 people found this helpful

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Who the F***?

I did not know who roger McNamee was before. I do now. He shares some fascinating experiences from inside and around FB. Very comprehensive enlightening intelligent worthwhile read. A panoramic view of the online world and social media beyond Facebook. This should be mandatory for anyone in congress who is less interested in ego and politics and actually wants to make a difference in the world. Social media is not a bad thing. But bad actors have mastered it beyond our current controls.

5 people found this helpful

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Scary times, great insight

With the amount of money Roger’s made off Zuck, it sounds a bit like buyers remorse- but he provides a fantastic insight into the treacherous ‘move fast and break things’ mentality swiftly eroding democracy.

3 people found this helpful

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Macked!

McNamee has embraced the timely and critical topic of questioning not just the impact of social media on society, but on democracy. His hypotheses are chilling. But beyond identifying the problems intrinsic with these powerful technology platforms, he offers cogent and encouraging solutions. It’s not to late to eradicate the damage done, but we’ve all a responsibility to act. This book serves as the ignition to fuel the fire of revolution, innovation and apropos justice.

6 people found this helpful

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Effective Case from an Insightful Insider

McNamee makes the right point: Internet platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter have allowed very smart and well-intentioned people to wander into some very dark and dangerous places that threaten Democracy, Free Speech and our way of life.

He spends a lot of time, a lot of time establishing his bonafides by recounting the history of his involvement with the creation and early history of Facebook. The more interesting part of Zucked traces the evolution of his realization of the dangers of Facebook’s impact in the American Political System and the 2016 Election. He does a really good job discussing the close embrace between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, Bannon and the Mercer’s.

Those chapters and the final two are definitely worth reading. What these platforms have done to our understanding of privacy and our concept of Fact is a vital issue of our time and McNamee is leading the way to focusing our attention! A long but worthwhile read.

2 people found this helpful

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A great book all but ruined by the narration

What a terrible disservice the author does to this book by not getting a professional narrator to perform this reading. The topic is interesting and vital and the author’s perspective is unique but the narration sounds like it’s being read to classroom of kindergarteners. In addition to being so irritating it’s actually grueling, it almost fatally undercuts the authority of the points being made. A terrible shame.

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must read

if you are still on Facebook, you need to read this book. even if you are not convinced to get off, you will never see it the same again.

1 person found this helpful