Review: An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination

An Ugly TruthAn Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination
By: Sheera Frenkel & Cecilia Kang
Publisher: Harper

When it was revealed that Facebook had a role in the lead up to the January 6th insurrection, it was just another scandal that has engulfed Facebook since the 2016 election. A leaked report by Facebook said that, “Hindsight is 20/20, at the time, it was very difficult to know whether what we were seeing was a coordinated effort to delegitimize the election, or whether it was free expression by users who were afraid and confused and deserved our empathy.”

In An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination, New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel & Cecilia Kang build a compelling case that every Facebook scandal came with an ignored warning. Frenkel and Kang have compiled a wealth of information through hundreds of interviews with people in and out of Facebook. The well sourced book paints a vivid picture of the dysfunction at the top of Facebook, which has now led to renewed bipartisan focus on regulating large tech companies like Facebook.

For a company that brought in 29 billion dollars of profit in the first three months of 2021, Facebook still functions like a small start up company without the necessary support to handle the problems that are known to arise. These problems, which the book reports on, include holding back information on the russian disinformation campaign, refusing to take down misinformation, and creating a toxic atmosphere that prides itself on dismissing problems that employees bring up the chain. For example, Zuckerberg has made it a decades long policy that free speech should reign true on Facebook, even when it involves holocaust deniers, deep fakes, and political misinformation. While the book doesn’t take a stand on if Facebook should be broken up or regulated, reading An Ugly Truth will leave you with one thought: more regulation is needed.

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