He has had access to Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg for three years. And now renowned tech writer Steven Levy delivers the definitive history of one of America’s most powerful and controversial companies: Facebook.
... exhaustive and well-paced ... Levy's narrative is richly detailed, thanks to interviews with Facebookers past and present ... Levy's account of Zuckerberg's abbreviated Harvard tenure and Facebook's early years feel fresh, with plenty of color that reminds you the HBO show Silicon Valley did not have to reach far for its satire ... Facebook's founder remains a cipher in a book that in many ways doubles as his biography. Levy describes his interests and his signature conversational tic...But if Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg, what does Mark Zuckerberg stand for? Levy doesn't provide a clear answer.
It is a largely sympathetic, and occasionally fawning, portrait of Facebook that seems at odds with the company’s recent emergence as an avatar for the risks of unchecked corporate power ... Although the book raises questions about Facebook’s serial privacy violations and handling of foreign election interference on its site, sections addressing those issues often feel pro forma or tacked on. Levy seems much more at home narrating Zuckerberg’s high-speed upward trajectory from a rule-flouting Harvard student who capitalized on other people’s ideas to the Silicon Valley mogul who muscled the founders of Instagram and WhatsApp into selling him their start-ups ... does not delve deeply into the company’s data-mining practices...Nor does the book examine the company’s outsize role in the surveillance economy ... Unfortunately, the book’s cursory explanations of Facebook’s data operations, one of the linchpins of its success, will make it difficult for readers to fully grasp the many antitrust and privacy investigations with which the tech giant is now grappling ... The story of how Facebook came to capture the attention of nearly one out of three people on earth, with profound repercussions for humanity, is truly astonishing. But Facebook tells only half of it. It is a tour de force of access journalism. It is not a tour de force of critical thinking.
... reflects the reputational swan-dive of its subject. Levy is the dean of tech writers; Facebook’s brass gave him the run of the C-suite. The result is evenhanded and devastating ... Levy skillfully captures the feverish creativity of the Palo Alto company ... mostly unspools a follow-the-data account of how the company’s headlong pursuit of growth led to its present predicament.