This is a comprehensive and disturbing overview of the pervasive harm caused by Facebook. Google and Amazon are mentioned in passing. Most of it deals with Facebook. After reading this, one is very well informed about the extensive methods and psychological tools used to create Facebook addiction, as well as, more generally, tools used for mass persuasion.
Unfortunately, the author's innate progressivism permeates. Throughout the book, the author repeatedly refers to 'hate speech', extremist views, and 'conspiracy theories'. As an example of the latter, he brings up Alex Jones and the site Infowars – but ignores or is ignorant of - the fact that much of Jones' content dealt with true examples of law enforcement abuses – exactly what Black Lives Matter (who he enthuses over repeatedly) was supposedly organized to fight. He calls for people with divergent views to 'talk' to each other – but progressives have demonized disagreement as 'hate speech' or 'gay bashing (same sex marriage), or 'denier ism (climate change), 'white privilege (financial success, ironically except for Zuckerberg, Bozos, etc). This worldview overlay dilutes the very real hazards of technology: only an aggressive government regulatory response is his answer. Except for DuckDuckGo, which is a browser that doesn't track users, no private sector solutions are mentioned. Chapter 14, “What About You”, is short on concrete steps individuals can take right now to protect themselves, and long on calls for 'public pressure' to force external action.
The author regurgitates every current progressive trope and buzzword: Trump as the devil incarnate whom the Russians got elected, hate speech, conspiracy theories, government regulation as the only solution, inadequate public school spending responsible for disengaged adult citizens, the Democratic party as America's saviors, George Soros as a savior, and so on. Yet there's no mention of the progressive philosophies that underpin Facebook – collectivism and a belief in a higher-ordered visionary ruling elite. The capture of American education by tech companies which began in the 80's, is mentioned in passing.
Absent is any free market solution, except for generalized calls to encourage competition. Nor any solution other than government agencies tasked with micromanaging online content, what constitutes acceptable speech, and encouraging opposing views. He even calls for a click box labeled 'opposing views' for users to click on! Who would develop content for this is ignored. It is hard to imagine an NPR or MSNBC viewer seeking 'opposing' views. If they did so now, there wouldn't be the 'filter bubble' problem he repeatedly refers to. Why the assumption that 'hate' speech – which is dog-whistle speak for what the left opposes – must be censored? The author should be advocating for more openness, not less. Let all ideas be tested in the marketplace of ideas, as was basically the case for the past 200 years.
This book does an excellent job of laying out the problems caused by Facebook, but what could have been a wide-ranging examination of what is probably the biggest challenge to modern life is narrowed by the author's narrow worldview. By all means read it – but recognize the progressive proselytizing.
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Pr (5 February 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525561358
- ISBN-13: 978-0525561354
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 3 x 23.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 567 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)