Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom” as Want to Read:
The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,699 ratings  ·  147 reviews
"The revolution will be Twittered!" declared journalist Andrew Sullivan after protests erupted in Iran in June 2009. Yet for all the talk about the democratizing power of the Internet, regimes in Iran and China are as stable and repressive as ever. In fact, authoritarian governments are effectively using the Internet to suppress free speech, hone their surveillance techniq ...more
ebook, 432 pages
Published January 1st 2011 by PublicAffairs (first published November 16th 2010)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Net Delusion, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Net Delusion

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,699 ratings  ·  147 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
On Epistemology in Democracy

Global experience over the last decade is clear: internet social technology poses a far greater threat to democracies than it does to the world’s authoritarian regimes. Morozov was one of the first to recognize this as a likely possibility years before Donald Trump executed his coup of the American Republican Party and Vladimir Putin mounted his successful cyber-attack on the US elections.

The prevailing wisdom before Twitter and Facebook and the virtually infinite bl
Michael Burnam-Fink
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, sts
Morozov is on a crusade against 'Internetic-centric foreign policy' and 'cyber-utopianism', which he describes as a constellation of power interests linking Silicon Valley tech companies (Google, Twitter, Facebook) with Cold Warriors (Cheney, Clinton, Rumsfeld) in a profoundly misguided and dangerous effort to promote democracy overseas through technology. He argues that rather than being an unalloyed force for freedom, the internet can be used in many ways that strengthen authoritarian regimes. ...more
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technology
Few things delight me as much as a contrarian.

I enjoy reading Wired magazine; its a welcome blast of techno-optimism every month. And yet... Wired magazine stands out for its high concentration of "the Internets shower the masses with freedom and young entrepreneurs will solve all of life's minor inconveniences"! Wired is not alone in this attitude and is not the worst; its just an easy target for me because I actually read it. I avoid the other stuff.

Evgeny Morozov picks apart many of the assum
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I remember reading an article saying how the internet is making us dumber, and I was cynical on how some pundits claim that this same internet is introducing democracy to despotic regimes through Facebook and the Twitter Revolution and whatnot (Malcolm Gladwell also has a good take on this). This book brings it all together.

On a 2009 visit to Shanghai, Barack Obama was all too happy to extol the virtues of the Internet, saying that "the more freely information flows, the stronger society becomes
Feb 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Morozov is debunking the notion that internet access = internet freedom. In fact, he tells us that internet "freedom" is a term with no meaning in the conventional sense since it implies that users are free to say what they like and use the technology for their own ends. But, his argument goes, if one user (an authoritarian regime, say, with a reason to dampen enthusiasm for democratic reforms) controls any points of internet access, or subverts the open sharing of ideas on social networking pla ...more
Maru Kun
Nov 05, 2018 marked it as to-read
Published in 2011 but with a chapter titled 'Why the KGB Wants you to Join Facebook' and with articles like this: Tracing a Meme From the Internet’s Fringe to a Republican Slogan appearing in the NYT, I am thinking this might be worth a closer look... ...more
John Matthews
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Compelling, instructive and deeply researched, The Net Delusion courageously challenges the perception that the Internet has wrought only positive change and calls into question the playbook of those who seek to democratize the world through its promotion.

Morozov cites many examples of technology being heralded as a utopia-generator and freedom-enhancer: the telegraph, radio, TV, etc. only to have the dream busted each time.

The Internet may have brought people together, but it hasn’t changed hum
Leah G
Really important book for the modern age- Morozov exposes the cliches that policymakers use when talking about the internet and explains the harm such oversimplifications can cause. However, the poor writing style of this book detracted from my reading experience- the book needs more editing, for typos, awkward phrasings, abused idioms, and grammatical errors unfortunately abound. Some of the ideas, as well, were poorly developed and some terms were never defined (like democracy! He kept using i ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Morozov has done extensive and excellent research on how the Internet is heralded as a democratizing tool on theory but how things happen in practice. He has looked at the wide context surrounding events such as the "Iranian Twitter Revolution", something we cannot say of many journalists and certainly not of Internet gurus. It also gives a good overview of people´s expectations to various technologies throughout history such as the telegraph and the airplane.
It is a serious book that is probab
Jorge Cab
Oct 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
I loved the idea and premise of the book but this is the biggest crap I’ve ever read, it took me three months to read it and took away any reading desire for the next three months. Really, it seems that he could express his idea in a 60 pages book and I would have been enlightened in the same way but would have saved hours of painful reading.

I must give the guy that the book is incredibly well documented so if you want to read one quote of after another for 320 pages this is the best thing you c
Cathy (Ms. Sweeney)
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Long story short - the internet and technology is a double edged sword that can be used for promoting a free exchange of ideas and philosophies and can be used by authoritarian governments to track opposition groups and individuals, spread misinformation, and distract the people.

And the author really seems to dislike Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

I found the book interesting, in the beginning, although not quite as original and earth shattering as the author seemed to believe. The somewha
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
interesting book on the dark side of internet, but it tends to become repetitive and unstructured at some point, so I tended to swipe through the last 100 pages.
Michael Hughes
I finished more than a third before throwing in the towel. Morozov's analysis is strong, and his writing is often quite funny, a must given the sometimes dry material. While reading, however, I found myself flirting with other books on my shelves, casting sidelong glances that lasted longer and longer. Ultimately, it came down to, what am I going to do with this information, having acquired it? How much of it will I even remember? Isn't this really for policy wonks in a position to do something, ...more
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The book's core thesis is that it's counterproductive to speak about the internet as having universal pro-democracy impacts when it produces situationally-dependent results. It does this by detailing ways that the internet reinforces authoritarian states first, theorizing connections second, and offering anything like a solution a distant third.

An interesting corrective to utopian views of the internet, and an ode to complexity. It's weird that it has a Malcolm Gladwell quote on the cover.
Ian Scuffling
Granted The Net Delusion is almost a decade old now, its relevance has really come into its own in the past two years where the US has had a kind of social media comeuppance on the grandest scale; i.e. the obsession with the Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and the dissemination of “fake news” across social channels are part of the core of what Morozov talks about in this book to express why cyber-utopianism is not just naïve arrogance, but dangerous in its idealism. Perhaps no current eve ...more
Chris Bronsk
Oct 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Morozov attacks both cyber-utopians (if there are any still out there) and neoliberal triumphalists who want to credit the Internet for, well, just about anything that benefits them. These critiques sound very much like mainstream globalization debates with some anti-capitalist rhetoric refocused toward the Internet and digital media communication technologies. That is, nothing new. But this book is nevertheless an important critique for how Morozov, through his lively style and effective use of ...more
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If it were possible, I'd go for 4 and a half stars for this book. It's a very interesting read about the state of internet all around the world but especially in authoritarian countries. While some things are already a bit outdated, it offers a lot food for thought, brings up issues I never even stopped to think about and in general discusses the way we use and talk about internet in a fascinating way. It draws parallels between historical and current events and is a must read for anyone who is ...more
Daniel Elder
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
A refreshing read in the age of cyber-utopianism. Morozov gets unfairly labeled as either being an anti-tech Luddite and an Internet-hater but he actually carves out a great argument for more reasonable approaches to technology and shifting our perspectives on it to understand that it's not technologies that shape societies so much as societies that shape technologies. Technologies change rapidly but human nature far less so. The penultimate chapter is a fantastic exploration of the ways in whic ...more
This is an interesting book that makes good points. Sure, it sets up straw men, but the "the Internet will save the world" crowd can really get ahead of itself, so refuting seemingly ridiculous arguments is sometimes in order here. Where the net delusion goes wrong is in trying to take its hard headed pessimism too far, and ending up contradicting itself. The Internet cant be both an ineffective way for progressives to organize popular protest and an effective way for reactionaries to organize p ...more
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I just picked up at random

I actually Love it!

The Net Delusion exposes the not so safe parts of the internet, and there are many.

You'll learn much from reading this, know more about the world, and feel a bit tricked.

Sneaky Governments....

Meghan Pfister
Interesting read and very relevant to what is happening in the cyber world today. Morozov wrote this book in 2011 and I would be curious to see what he had to say about last year's election and the way in which the Internet has changed in the past 7 years. ...more
David Dinaburg
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first throes of modern Internet nostalgia have descended, and with it, the weight of reconciling not only life pre-‘net but the fresh idealism that always accompanies a shift in telecommunications (see: telegraph, telephone). Twitter’s constant deluge of compressed inanities and pointless musings have supplanted Usenet’s core of dedicated, experienced and technically savvy users. The internet used to have some barriers to entry; most of them were financial. If you were “online” it was becaus ...more
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cbr5
The following is a joint review of two books by Evgeny Morozov and is cross-posted in both review sections.

This is going to be a very atypical review. In reading The Net Delusion and Click Here, I was attempting to develop a cohesive personal position on the problems of internet advocacy. There is a lot of literature and scholarly articles on the benefits of using the internet in the cause of advocacy, either as a method of raising awareness or as a means to a fundraising end, but there is very
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Morozov views that Western policymakers' opinions regarding internet freedom very much reflects their Cold War upbringing, in part thinking that the internet is like the samizdat. In reality, the internet can be used by both democracy promoters and anti-democracy groups to both promote their own causes.

Furthermore, Morozov also highlights how the internet can be used by authoritarian governments for surveillance and censorship, citing Russian and Chinese examples.

Some parts of this book can be v
Jeff Scott
Mar 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: internet, non-fiction
The ideas in this book are not unique. Social networking has many advantages, but people tend to exaggerate their performance and importance. In a general setting, this might hurt a corporations marketing plan, but Morozov does something different here. He discusses the problems with applying this notion that social networking and free internet in oppressed areas is the miracle drug that will free everyone. He argues that other causes lead to a successful revolution and to believe that the use o ...more
Sean Goh
A lot of salient points, which probably explains why reading it was so slow going.
The Internet penetrates and shapes all walks of political life, not just the ones conducive to democratisation.

All metaphors come with costs, for the only way in which they can help us grasp a complex issue is by downplaying some other, seemingly less important aspects of that issue.

Any information-centric account of the end of the cold war is bound to prioritise the role of its users - dissidents, o
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating read. It takes some time to really get into because the first few chapters are a bit dated - this book was published in 2011 and written in 2010 and thus focuses heavily on political situations from which we are now quite removed. However, as the book progresses and broadens its scope, the lessons, warnings, and information Morozov provides is truthfully more relevant than ever, and the book is a challenging undertaking in examining deep structures of our current political ...more
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I discovered Morozov via this exchange he had with then technology columnist Farhad Manjoo. Manjoo was playing checkers, Morozov was playing Go. (See what I did there).

Morozov is a refreshing voice in a cultural climate where internet/technology-worship is the norm. It seems that there is hardly a problem that technology can't solve, and with Washington mired in partisan gridlock, Silicon Valley looks like a veritable Shangrila for our aspirations for a more truly democratic world.

Nate Huston
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well-written and easy-to-read book. Morozov's purpose with the book is to provide an alternative narrative to the so-called cyber-utopians and internet-centrists of the world who believe that all internet is good internet (i.e. "information will set you free") and those who cannot look beyond the internet in their analysis of its impact (e.g. to understand the impact of Twitter in the Arab Spring, one must look beyond Twitter itself (p324)).

Though the book at first comes off as a bit one-s
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It
  • What Technology Wants
  • The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You
  • In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
  • The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires
  • Code: Version 2.0
  • Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest
  • Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room
  • The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
  • The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
  • You Are Not a Gadget
  • Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet
  • Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future
  • Rusty Brown
  • Platform Capitalism
  • Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party
  • The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle, #1-4)
  • A Gun for Sale
See similar books…
Evgeny Morozov is a contributing editor to Foreign Policy and runs the magazine's "Net Effect" blog about the Internet's impact on global politics. Morozov has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University, a Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation, a Yahoo! fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, a fellow at George Soros's Open Society Institute, and th ...more

Related Articles

For more than a decade, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the world-renowned astrophysicist and host of the popular radio and Emmy-nominated...
89 likes · 17 comments
“The most effective system of Internet control is not the one that has the most sophisticated and draconian system of censorship, but the one that has no need for censorship whatsoever.” 8 likes
“The unthinking glorification of digital activism makes its practitioners confuse priorities with capabilities. Getting people onto the streets, which may indeed become easier with modern communication tools, is usually the last stage of a protest movement, in both democracies and autocracies. One cannot start with protests and think of political demands and further steps later on. There are real dangers to substituting startegic and long-term action with spontaneous street marches.” 0 likes
More quotes…