What’s the story?
Take your pick: 'dark profiles' that exist on Facebook before you even create them, what really happened after Trump got elected or the incomprehensible demands Mark Zuckerberg made of his fans. All of them are among the jaw-dropping revelations from Steven Levy’s new book, Facebook: The Inside Story, which is released today.
What’s the book?
When Facebook announced that 1 billion people had signed up to use the social network, journalist Levy smelled a story. 'I realised that this is something utterly new, enabled by technology and whatever this company did,' he told NPR. 'And I had to write about it and explain how that happened and what it meant and how they dealt with it.'
What Levy perhaps didn’t anticipate was that he would spend the next three years lurking inside Facebook’s headquarters, undertaking interviews with everyone from former employees to Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Zuckerberg himself. Along the way, far more remarkable things happened than the billionth sign-up: Donald Trump’s campaign team used Facebook to enable his victory, the horrifying effects of a Russian disinformation campaign were revealed and the Cambridge Analytica scandal made everyone reconsider how they use social media.
Facebook: The Inside Story documents all of this from within the office walls. The Times has called it 'the best on Facebook yet'. And as for those armpits? Levy’s meticulous detail includes the moment a communications exec blow-dries Zuckerberg before his speaking appearances to eliminate anxiety sweat.
Part of the reason why Facebook were so relaxed about Trump’s team ploughing considerably more funds than Hilary Clinton’s team into their social media campaign was because they never thought he could win. When he did, Levy recounts, 'people were in tears'.