Author: Max Fisher
This is a terrifying, well-argued polemic against the power of social media to turn the average apolitical person into a hate spewing warrior or worse.
Building on years of international reporting, Max Fisher tells the gripping and galling inside story of how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social networks, in their pursuit of unfettered profits, preyed on psychological frailties to create the algorithms that drive everyday users to extreme opinions and, increasingly, extreme actions.
As Fisher demonstrates, the companies’ founding tenets, combined with a blinkered focus maximizing engagement, have led to a destabilized world for everyone.
Traversing the planet, Fisher tracks the ubiquity of hate speech and its spillover into violence. Through it all, the social-media giants refused to intervene in any meaningful way, claiming to champion free speech when in fact what they most prized were limitless profits.
The result, as Fisher shows, is a cultural shift toward a world in which people are polarized not by beliefs based on facts, but by misinformation, outrage, and fear.