Yesterday, July 26, 2021, there was an online conversation organized by Brookline Booksmith with New York Times award-winning reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang about their recently released Book, "An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination." The meeting was moderated by Callum Borchers, political correspondent for WBUR, Boston's NPR news station.

Although only recently released, this book has already caught the attention of leading media and information security experts. The New York Times Book Review has already called the book "the ultimate takedown" and an instant New York Times bestseller.

It sheds light on the most tumultuous period for the company Facebook since Zuckerberg founded it 17 years ago: five years beginning with election preparations in 2016 and ending in 2020.

The Washington Post, in its review of the book, pointed out that authors Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang focused on the problems of Facebook in the Trump era, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the rise of misinformation on the platform. As the authors themselves point out, the book reveals the technological history of our time in a fascinating, behind-the-scenes exposé that offers the definitive account of Facebook's downfall.

The Guardian noted that An Ugly Truth is qualitatively different because, first, its co-authors are not insiders, but a pair of seasoned New York Times journalists who were members of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize-nominated team.

But far more significant is that the authors interviewed more than 400 people, recording more than 1,000 hours of conversations. It also includes interviews with Facebook executives, former and current employees with their families, friends, classmates, Facebook investors and advisors, lawyers, and activists who have long fought the company.

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As such, the book is packed with observer facts, all from very different people who have only one thing in common: their work or any interaction with Facebook.

Book authors

Sheera Frenkel covers cybersecurity issues from San Francisco for the New York Times. Before that, she spent more than a decade in the Middle East as a foreign correspondent, reporting for BuzzFeed, NPR, Times of London, and McClatchy Newspapers.

Cecilia Kang works covering technology and regulatory policy for the New York Times, Washington, DC. Before joining the paper in 2015, she covered technology and business issues for the Washington Post for ten years.

The main goals of writing the book

As part of their study of Facebook's operations, the authors found that there are some really important elements that are understood in company activities and the technologies that it actively uses for its incredibly effective operations. But those elements had to come together in a book. "So we felt that 'Facebook deserves a book," the authors noted during yesterday's online meeting. "We realized this to be the definitive book about Facebook."

Large volumes of data, confidentiality and its apparent violations, the scandal with the Cambridge Analytica Center, the ongoing problems of misinformation - much of this is related to the company's business model and technology.

Therefore, the authors have tried to convey the information they have received due to careful research, so as not only to educate people about what lies behind the company's activities but also to qualitatively inform people about the dangers and risks of using this social network.

One of the book's objectives is to draw increased attention to and influence the development of technical developments in the field of protecting personal information and the possibility of preventing its leakage in the case of visits to Facebook pages. The authors shared that they have already received feedback from other Silicon Valley companies that they have read "An Ugly Truth" and see it as a guide to what not to do as a Facebook user.