Facebook: The Inside Story. By Steven Levy.Blue Rider Press, 583 pages.
“I WOULD ALWAYS say to regulators,‘Look, bad things happen in human society, therefore bad things happen on Facebook’.” So said Chris Kelly, an ex-Facebooker once in charge of the social network’s privacy policies, to Steven Levy, a veteran technology journalist whose book about Facebook was published on February 25th. Mr Kelly was recounting conversations with officials in 2007, amid early rumblings about Facebook’s seamier side—specifically the ease with which children could find questionable content, such as a group named “I’m Curious About Incest”.
More than a decade on, Facebook claims 2.5bn people—a third of humanity—as users. The charge sheet against the company has grown as well. It has been accused of spreading fake news, facilitating paedophilia, and allowing countries to interfere in each other’s elections. Mr Levy’s book offers a ringside view of the growth of one of the world’s biggest companies, and of the backlash it has provoked. Other books, and even a Hollywood film, have chronicled the firm’s rise. But Mr Levy’s effort is fresh, up-to-date and insiderish. Thanks to the indulgence of the firm’s boss, Mark Zuckerberg, he had the run of its California headquarters and its denizens.
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