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An Ugly Truth
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 22 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Cecilia Kang , Sheera Frenkel

An Ugly Truth

The subtle yet powerful influence of social media on world politics

Best selling journalists Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang retrace the changes that the world has experienced since the dawn of Facebook, following a trail of clues that connect the company's many crises. What emerges from their extensive interviews and research is a story of profound contradictions, of the insatiable pursuit of profit that threatens any dialogue aimed at improving society as a whole and the way people interact with one another. An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination is an in-depth analysis of the influence of the web on the future political landscape.

An Ugly Truth
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 22 min.

The success that Facebook enjoys today is the result of a corporate history with many dark sides

Nowadays, life without social networks is a distant memory for many of us, and unthinkable for the younger generation, who are currently growing up with smartphones in their pockets. Billions of people around the world use Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp dozens of times a day to talk to friends, to read news, and for work. Our entire lives have automatically been reprogrammed based on this new way of interacting and communicating.

Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang believe that this transition took place as the result of a very carefully planned design rather than a natural cultural evolution, a design which can be attributed to none other than Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook. His company has been in the spotlight for its questionable business choices on many occasions since its launch, and for the effects these decisions have had on the real lives of its users. Each event, each investigation and each and every lawsuit has made increasingly clear just how covert the company’s ultimate intent has been. Kang and Frenkel interviewed hundreds of ex-employees, external partners, and investors to better understand and explain the exponential growth of the company. They stuck to the facts, and left no stone unturned.

Although the majority of the scandals involving Facebook were between the 2016 presidential election campaign and several months after the 2020 elections, we will first look at the company’s early years, to understand where it comes from, and how its roots laid the foundation for what was to come. It must be said that, over the years, Facebook has had many opportunities to change its course, but Mark Zuckerberg’s priorities have always been profit and growth.


The key ideas of "An Ugly Truth"

The success that Facebook enjoys today is the result of a corporate history with many dark sides
From a school yearbook to a million subscribers. The very first steps the company takes communicate its intention: growth
Slowly but surely, the company has managed to gather information about the lives of billions of people
From fake news to Russian interference: Facebook becomes a weapon
What was the Cambridge Analytica scandal?
From hate speech to oppressive company dynamics: why more and more employees began to leave Facebook
QAnon is the most recent attempt to use the platform as a weapon, and highlighted the dangers of spreading conspiracy theories
What effects can we expect the social network to have on society in the future?
Take-home message
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