Zucked

If you are a concerned/ informed citizen and voter, “Zucked: The Education of an Unlikely Activist,” is a definite read, but don’t expect a biography of Mark Zuckerberg. This hard hitting book is an account of the culture of Facebook, Google and Twitter, and is alarming to say the least.

The author, Roger McNamee, is an unlikely activist battling tech indiscretions. He earned his living in Silicon Valley, has invested in tech and been a consultant to many of the biggest names in the field.

McNamee stresses in “Zucked” that no one wants to be manipulated, taken for granted, and used. And yet that’s what’s happening every time we use technology. As a culture, we believe the positives of technology far outweigh the negatives, but the dire fact is that private data is not private.

Our information is being used without our consent or knowledge. Human weaknesses are being exploited in the same way propaganda plays on our fears. This is being done by selling our information to others, by creating profiles of us on line, by putting us in “groups” and by insulating us with filter bubbles. This is called “brain hacking,” and is done for profit—pure and simple.

McNamee believes our democratic republic is under severe threat. There is no doubt Facebook played a huge role in our last presidential election and very possibly in the United Kingdom’s vote on Brexit, he adds.

Facebook is managed by Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, and they have consistently refused to be alarmed by the author’s, and other’s, findings, and have refused to change. McNamee feels they are arrogant and unwilling to suffer the consequences of their actions.

McNamee believes in humanly designed ethical platforms, not in algorithmic design. He is calling for government regulations to put a stop to Facebook’s monopoly, and for our reliance on technology to be seen as a public safety concern.

“Screen time” has become an addiction and child development is being skewed by too much time with screens, he writes. McNamee also is calling on us—“we the people”—to take a stand and put public pressure on Zuckerberg, and other tech companies. These steps would force technology to stop controlling us and allow us to control technology.

“Zucked” deserves a careful reading—its subject matter is broad and complex, ranging from McNamee’s first meeting with Zuckerberg, the author’s initial enchantment with Zuckerberg and Facebook, and moving through a very readable history of Silicon Valley. The book continues with current Facebook culture and how the platform exploits our weaknesses.

McNamee believes instead of connecting us, we are being driven apart by extremist views, disinformation bubbles, and profiles and groups designed to hit our trigger points, thus resulting in us being more polarized and insulated from others.

There is hope as evidenced with tech people presenting their concerns to Congress. “Zucked” is a call to action, a frightening and important book about the necessity of paying heed and changing ourselves for the good of our nation, not allowing technology to control us in the wildly dysfunctional way it has been.

Read this book and start a conversation.