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Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy
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Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  36 reviews
If you wanted to build a machine that would distribute propaganda to millions of people, distract them from important issues, energize hatred and bigotry, erode social trust, undermine respectable journalism, foster doubts about science, and engage in massive surveillance all at once, you would make something a lot like Facebook. Of course, none of that was part of the pla ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 21st 2018 by Oxford University Press (first published May 15th 2018)
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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  187 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A highly readable, obviously relevant, critical examination of the deleterious effects Facebook has had on our lives, social structures, polis, and culture. This is a scholarly book (which is a good thing), so, Vaidhyanathan draws connection to Neil Postman's work as well as other media and communication scholars. But as scholarly and informed as the book is, Vaidhyanathan does not mince words when exposing the Facebook effects. He also broadens the discussion under Postman's technopoly framewor ...more
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you want to have an informed opinion about the role of Facebook within the wider ecosystem of social media platforms, do yourself a favour and read this book. Even for the well informed (academics studying Facebook like me), there is a lot to learn. Facebook is so big and complex, and its business practice are so opaque, you need books like this to make sense of it.

Vaidhyanathan doesn't mince words. It's clear where he stands and that's a good thing. His profiling of Zuckerberg is devastatin
Marco Pontual
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
This book reads like a draft. Maybe if it had gone through some heavy editing it could be more readable, or maybe they'd find out that it has 10 or maybe 15 pages worth of actual relevant and original content.

I have the feeling that since there are only a few reviews of this book here on Goodreads many of them come from the author's colleagues or students. This is not by a long shot a 4.38 book.

I suggest you use your time with something better and maybe wait to see if they chop this book down to
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: digital
A timely and well-researched book. Vaidhyanathan writes clearly, personably, and often wittily. His basic argument is that the large-scale, negative effects of Facebook more than offset the pleasures and conveniences it offers each of us as individual users.

And yet . . . I do feel he goes on a bit long. His book is structured as a series of seven different views of Facebook as a "machine" producing certain social effects: pleasure, surveillance, attention, etc. A result is that Vaidhyanathan's a
M.T. Karthik
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
S. Vaidhyanathan has comprehended and elucidated what two billion of us vaguely understood when we joined (hit 'agree' quickly without reading the TOS) and couldn't express ourselves to resist. Users of Facebook should be OBLIGED to read this book. It isn't about reform at the corporate level, after all. Users have to take responsibility for what FB has become.

PLEASE read this book

Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doskonała, analityczna książka, której tytuł wystarczy za streszczenie. Czegoś takiego oczekiwałem i nie zawiodłem się. Powinien przeczytać ją każdy użytkownik Facebooka. Nie po to, aby go bojkotować, ale by nabrać odpowiedniej perspektywy czy świadomości odnośnie tego jak jesteśmy manipulowani. I jak bardzo mamy to gdzieś. Po lekturze tej książki nie zlikwiduję profilu, zresztą nie taki jest jej cel. Autor też nie zamierza zawracać kijem Wisły. Warto wiedzieć jak bardzo jest się manipulowanym i ...more
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Impeccably researched analysis of how Facebook not only foments confusion, division, and disinformation, but is actually perfectly designed to do so. The take-down of Zuckerberg is made all the more devastating by the gentle, careful hand with which it is done, like being dressed down by your high school principal. I appreciate that the author does not rely on click-bait-y warnings about addiction and deleterious effects of technology but rather carefully considers how the technology could be bu ...more
Mike Falconer
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Warning: This book may alter your perceptions on how the world currently works and your part in democracy’s downfall.
Anti-Social Media is actually misnamed.
This book is an indictment of Facebook and to a lessor extent the other social media sites that seek to emulate its success. What initially seems to be the book’s raison d’être; an examination of the overreach, and dubious business practices, that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, is actually far more wide spread, nuanced, and ultimatel
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: media
"Facebook serves us thoughts and feelings that affirm our prejudices and satisfies our desires for attention."

"There is a plea for reinvestment on institutions that promote deep thought conducted at analog speed."

"If you wanted to build a machine that would distribute propaganda to millions of people, distract them from important issues, energize hatred and bigotry, erode social trust, undermine journalism, foster doubts about science, and engage in massive surveillance all at once, you would ma
Lance Eaton
Like other recent books Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics, New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, and Your Happiness was Hacked, Vaidhyanathan takes a critical look at social media, most particularly and damming, Facebook. He pays particular attention to its role in Brexit and the 2016 US elections, but is more systematic in exploring the ways in which Zuckerberg and the entire Facebook team are creating an addictive platform t ...more
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I found out about this book through a retweet of the author, which then led me to his profile, where he announces this book release. I had it in my Amazon cart within the hour. The irony is not lost on me.

Anti-Social Media is a great recap of the recent history of the creation of Facebook all the way up to the 2016 elections and today. Perhaps like many people, I think I almost got whiplash with going back and forth between each story during that time— from inauguration body counts to Russian me
Rodrigo Vargas
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Un buen resumen de como las redes sociales, y las grandes compañías de internet han alterado radicalmente las formas en que la gente se informa, comunica y sociabiliza.
Considero que es un buen texto introductorio desde una perspectiva de análisis de medios, no tan especializado, más de divulgación, pero de todos modos tiene un recuento completo, y actualizado hasta mediados del año pasado. Por lo mismo, tiene un tratamiento bastante bueno y sobrio de los grandes temas de los últimos años: La el
Neil H
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a sobering account of humanity's basest instincts and its influences. How do we account and deal with the most galvanising technology we have since invented. The power of the Internet was meant to persuade, gather and empathise with people across all divides. Now it seems that we have let the "freeness" of Google and Facebook mold us into potential mindless click baits and narcissistic identity pushers. Made us shallow, rude, unthinking and yet at the same time glorified in our own ...more
Tim Cavale
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a thorough and insightful examination of Facebook and the impact it has individually and globally. It is a must-read for anyone interested in politics and political trends. It's about algorithms and advertising and how Facebook (and other social media) are being exploited to spread disinformation that cannot be easily tracked or disputed until well after its impact has been felt and the desired effect delivered vis these systems. It'll disturb the hell out of you.

Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bardzo polecam wszystkim tę książkę. Dużo trafnych obserwacji na temat tego, jak media społecznościowe wpływają na nasze życie oraz jak zmieniają funkcjonowanie społeczeństw. Są przykłady pozytywne, ale jednak dominują negatywne. Autor opisuje między innymi wpływ Facebooka w kontekście wygranej Trumpa, czy Brexitu. Myślę, że ta lektura może dużo zmienić podejściu do tego, jak korzysta się i postrzega wszelkie social media i aktywność online - u mnie się to zmieniło :)
Tim Krause
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Despite the seemingly left slant by the author by giving Facebook a lot of credit for Trump winning, I was still satisfied on what I learned listening to this book. The author goes into sufficient detail on a number of reasons why (I think) Facebook has done more harm than good. The book goes deep and past the obvious.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, society
If you’re uneasy about Facebook — and who isn’t — this book will help spell out why. It’s pretty convincing that we’d all be better off if we stuck to cat videos. The author’s core point is that Facebook’s very nature makes it not just unsuitable for political discourse, but actively destructive of it.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Many of the topics Vaidhyanathan discusses have been dealt with elsewhere, but his reach is broad and deep and he is the only social media theorist who consolidates it in one place. He also has a unique international perspective, bringing in rich insight about events and developments in India and other Asian cultures. This is a great overview for my 200-level social media students.
J Haydel
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful and relatively nuanced argument. I read it at the same time as a book on poetry in WWI, which has made me wonder how much of the phenomenon he describes has to do with amplification effects of Facebook algorithms and how much is completely unrelated to technology... a question he also considers in the book.
Scott Johnson
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I no longer think Mark Zuckerberg is evil, but he is astoundingly stupid.

I'm very much of the same mind as this author. If it wasn't the only way I keep in touch with many people, or if it wouldn't feel so socially isolating (most people we knew here in town moved away), I would probably delete my account at this point.
Jay Dougherty
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books-2018
A crucial study of not only facebook, but the entire social media landscape. The international examples from India and the Phillipines were extremely interesting, and something that I was not aware of.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The problem with Facebook is Facebook. In the words of Hannah Arendt, “stop and think.” Clear explanations of why and how Facebook is an attention machine, a surveillance machine, a protest machine, a propaganda machine.
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I think the book I want to read on Facebook isn't able to be written because there is no transparency in the company at all, but I'm still frustrated.

Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grad-school
Really interesting read for a report for school. Facebook does lots of things I didn't know about, such as embed staff in political campaigns. Lots of interesting and potentially scary bits of information.
Melody Moezzi
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At once fascinating and terrifying, Antisocial Media was the best modern day horror story I've ever read.
Ange Blossom
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've read on the subject yet and it covers off so much more, the wider-reaching implications, the bringing down of democracies etc. A riveting read.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for anyone with an interest in the role of social media in our personal lives, communities and world.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
so true
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book should be obligatory for everyone who uses social media.
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Robertson Family Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia.

Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin.

B.A., University of Texas at Austin.

Siva Vaidhyanathan is a cultural historian and media scholar, and is currently a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. From 1999 through the summer of 2007 he worked in the Department of Culture and Communication at New York Universi
“I’ve certainly scolded myself for an hour or more blown on a flow of dog videos, family updates, shallow political expressions, and pleas for funds. Every one of those items has some value to me, just as each potato chip delivers some pleasure, some flavor. I savor them. But I lose count. And upon reflection I feel just horrible. But the thing is, snack foods are explicitly designed to make us behave this way. Food producers have studied, mastered, and tinkered with the ratios of salt, sugar, and fat to keep us coming back, even when the taste of much of the food is unremarkable. Facebook is designed to be habit-forming in just the same way.” 1 likes
“Extremism will generate both positive and negative reactions, or “engagements.” Facebook measures engagement by the number of clicks, “likes,” shares, and comments. This design feature—or flaw, if you care about the quality of knowledge and debate—ensures that the most inflammatory material will travel the farthest and the fastest. Sober, measured accounts of the world have no chance on Facebook. And when Facebook dominates our sense of the world and our social circles, we all potentially become carriers of extremist nonsense” 1 likes
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