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No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram

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Award-winning reporter Sarah Frier reveals an inside, never-before-told, behind-the-scenes look at how Instagram defied the odds to become one of the most culturally defining apps of the decade.

Since its creation in 2010, Instagram’s fun and simple interface has captured our collective imagination, swiftly becoming a way of life. In No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, technology reporter Sarah Frier explains how Instagram’s founders married art and technology to overcome skeptics and to hook the public on visual storytelling. At first, Instagram initially attracted artisans, but then the platform exploded in popularity among the masses, creating an entire industry of digital influencers that’s now worth tens of billions of dollars.

Eighteen months after Instagram’s launch and explosive growth, the founders—Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger—made the gut-wrenching decision to sell the company to Facebook. For most companies, that would be the end of the story; but for Instagram, it was only the beginning. Instagram borrowed some lessons from Facebook and rejected others, until eventually its success stirred tension with Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, just as Facebook became embroiled in a string of public crises. Frier unearths the details that led to the cofounders’ departure, bringing to light dramatic moments unknown to the public until now.

At its heart, No Filter draws on unprecedented exclusive access—from the founders of Instagram, as well as employees, executives, and competitors; hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio; Anna Wintour of Vogue; Kris Jenner of the Kardashian-Jenner empire; and a plethora of influencers, from fashionistas with millions of followers to owners of famous dogs worldwide—to show how Instagram has fundamentally changed the way we communicate, shop, eat, and travel. The book brings readers inside users’ strategies to craft their personal image and fame, explaining how the company’s product decisions have affected the structure of our society. From teenagers to the pope, No Filter tells the captivating story of how Instagram not only created a new industry but also changed our lives.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published April 14, 2020

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Sarah Frier

4 books174 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,042 reviews
September 27, 2020

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

Instagram is an app that I probably use every day. I post what I'm drinking, what I'm reading, what I'm wearing, what I'm eating. I probably don't use it the way you're supposed to if you want to game the algorithm, but I've curated it in a way where posting there makes me happy. It's perhaps not as controversial as Twitter or Facebook, but its prominent "influencer" culture and "more perfect than perfect" lifestyle it embraces has led to a lot of warped ideas about consumer culture and body dysmorphia.

So, what exactly is Instagram, really, and how did it start?

In NO FILTER, Sarah Frier does her best to write a #nofilter take on Instagram, from its hard scrabble beginnings as a tech start up, to the noteworthy acquisition by Facebook, to the departure of the CEOs from the company due to constantly butting heads with the Zuck. It's written in a highly digestible gossipy tone that isn't afraid to spill the tea. And that tea-spilling is what totally makes this book unputdownable.

NO FILTER cemented my suspicions that Mark Zuckerberg isn't a very nice man. It sheds some light on how some of the algorithms they employ work, as well as how much data they really have on us, their unsuspecting and highly profitable audience (a lot). It was really interesting to see the schism between Facebook's and Instagram's cultures, and how the rift between the two companies widened as Instagram remained profitable and successful despite Facebook's many media gaffes.

I think my favorite portion of the book was about the influencers and how they became wildly successful at what they did. It's such a new concept, the idea of "ordinary" people who are only just slightly better than you or me, using something called "parasocial interactions" to sell products. It's like Mary Kay, only less obvious, and were it not for the #ad or #sponsored hashtags, a lot of us would probably have no idea that those staged and polished photos were meant to hawk product.

I would recommend this book to anyone who uses Facebook or Instagram and wants to learn more about startup culture and the sometimes cutthroat world of social media companies. Instagram definitely comes off looking better than Facebook, but they made some mistakes, too, and I liked the emphasis on content moderation becoming more necessary as apps look to become more socially conscious in their business practices, especially with regard to bullying and malicious behavior. It's beautifully written and completely fascinating. The ending ends up being somewhat bittersweet, as most of us who use the app know that Instagram ended up being devoured by the proverbial monster.

Will something better come along one day to replace it, making Instagram the Myspace of picture sharing? Perhaps. In the meantime, I'll keep on posting my books and gardening pictures, thanks.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!  

5 stars
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews2,847 followers
November 27, 2020
"No Filter" is a 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards finalist for best Science/Technology book.

As other reviewers have noted, it feels a bit like this year's "Bad Blood." Rather than following the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes's Theranos scam, readers are taken behind the scenes to see how Instagram was founded, acquired by Facebook, and subsequently became the monster social media behemoth it is today.

Frier is very successful in her goal of chronicling the INSIDE story of Instagram. As someone who personally has a love/mostly hate relationship with the app, I guess I picked up the book hoping to cement my decision to either embrace it or delete it for good. But having finished, I'm still ambivalent. I suppose I wish the author had spent a bit more time unpacking the OUTSIDE story of Instagram. She touches on it a bit, but I'm still curious about the overall impact of the app on our society and self esteem.

Still, I would highly recommend "No Filter" for anyone who uses the app regularly or is just interested in tech startups. I look forward to seeing what Frier investigates next.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Moore.
147 reviews30 followers
November 6, 2019
Fascinating. I couldn’t put it down. One of those journalistic works of nonfiction that reads like a thrilling narrative (think Bad Blood for social media). The story of Instagram, and by extension Facebook, is intriguing and made me reframe the way I think about and use social media.
Profile Image for Sharon Orlopp.
Author 1 book310 followers
November 1, 2022
Fascinating story about the founding of Instagram and then the staggering purchase by Facebook for $1 billion just before the Facebook IPO.

The two founders of Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, were told by the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, that they would have true autonomy and operate like a separate company inside Facebook. Systrom and Krieger remained with Instagram for six years as their independence and decision making kept being reduced and constrained. There were key philosophical differences between the leaders and the two companies.

Several interesting aspects about the book include:
* Initially Facebook was about friendships, Twitter was about opinions, and Instagram was about experiences

* The negotiations for the Facebook and Instagram deal was done super quickly and quietly, primarily over beers on Easter weekend, until it was announced publicly

* The 13 Instagram employees thought a $1 billion dollar deal would create wealth for each of them until they learned that they were receiving employment contracts with Facebook with new salaries and cash bonuses if they remained with Facebook for one year. Their Instagram stock options were cancelled and they were given Facebook restricted stock units with an equity vesting schedule that started over. And their commute to work was now one hour and dogs could not come into the office.

* Government investigations into whether Facebook should be allowed to purchase Instagram occurred. The FTC did not gather the information or analyze it. The FTC asked the company attorneys for Facebook and Instagram to gather evidence and determine if the deal should occur. This is the routine approach for deal approvals in the U.S. If the lawyers don't do a thorough job, they could potentially be disbarred.

My favorite quote in the book is from a former Instagram executive, "Facebook buying Instagram was like putting it in a microwave. In a microwave, the food gets hotter faster, but you can easily ruin the dish."

Terrific book with keen insights about social media and how it has changed our behaviors, as well as critical leadership lessons.
Profile Image for Laura Peden.
662 reviews115 followers
April 17, 2020
Well that was enlightening! Behind the scenes look at comments, filters, algorithms, influencers, hashtags, stories and the people who created it all. I also learned a lot about Facebook & Zuckerberg and now I need to go take another shower because HE IS GROSS 🤮
Profile Image for Tyler.
139 reviews20 followers
July 4, 2020
This book got me feeling some kind of way 😕

To my knowledge, very accurately and fairly reported. A great read, even for someone who has seen all this from the inside. Feeling lucky to have such a huge part of my life immortalized in a book.
Profile Image for JJ Khodadadi.
381 reviews84 followers
July 17, 2021
داستان شروع و طراحی و بالا آوردن اینستاگرام و قدم های اول این اپلیکیشن محبوب و روابط طراحان و مدیران و مشکلات پیش رو و خرید اینستاگرام توسط فیسبوک و ادامه ماجرا با بیانی بسیار خوب، پرداختن به جزییاتی که برای هرفرد مخصوصا دوستداران تکنولوژی و فعالین کارآفرین و حوزه استارتاپی بسیار پرفایده خواهد بود. من که لذت بردم
69 reviews2 followers
January 11, 2021
Turns out I don't care to know more about any of the social networks at this point.
Profile Image for Judith E.
531 reviews188 followers
February 10, 2021
I was engaged in the first half of this audio and I enjoyed hearing about instagram’s creator, Kevin Systrom’s background and his vision to curate creativity and beauty with his App. Even after Facebook acquired IG, Systrom and his staff were devoted to the artistic element, and not as highly motivated to solely make money, like Facebook.

The second half concentrated more on celebrity involvement and influencers and I can’t really identify with the need to sculpt buttocks to resemble a Kardashian’s.
Profile Image for Katie/Doing Dewey.
1,060 reviews203 followers
September 17, 2020
Summary: I live for detailed, dialogue-filled narrative nonfiction like this, especially when it also comes with interesting questions about ethics in tech!

This is the story of the founding of Instagram, with a narrative based on numerous interviews with employees there and at Facebook. And, because Instagram was so quickly acquired by Facebook around the time of the 2016 election, this is also the story of Facebook. Of particular interest was how Facebook (doesn't) handle content moderation and aggressively attempts to draw more users. For me, that was where this story really took off! The ostensible vision of the Instagram founders, focused on aesthetic quality over user quantity, provided a valuable contrast for this discussion.

I love books like this! Although I wish the author included more named sources, I understand why that wasn't possible. I also appreciated that she was up front with a caveat that dialogue was from people's later recollections. The writing was on point. Descriptions and dialogue made me feel like I was in the room watching these tech companies make their decisions.

The ethical questions that come up around content moderation and what the goals of a social media company should be would make for some great discussion. It wouldn't hurt for more people to be aware of how decisions around these points are made either (poorly and driven by human egos). I'd highly recommend this as a book club read. I think I'd also recommend this to fans of Bad Blood. Although the stakes in this saga aren't as immediately life and death, this still shared the same fascinating insight into a scandal-ridden, Silicon Valley company.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey
Profile Image for Selena S.
49 reviews
March 22, 2022
Thought this book would be kind of cringe and the last thing I needed to read after a long day of working in… big tech.

But I thought the storytelling was done well, gave insight into the inner dynamics personality-wise and business-wise, and enjoyed the multitudes of anecdotes from employees / highly-invested users of Instagram. It was also interesting to learn about how IG was made up of more community managers than engineers in the early days.

Zuck sucks, you’ll never want to work for FB after reading this.
Profile Image for Alex Regan.
21 reviews
May 3, 2020
I find all the major Silicon Valley tech giants’ origin stories fascinating. Instagram is one of the few that feel different to me. The book does a great job of explaining the founders and what set them apart, while chronicling the Facebook acquisition’s dual catapulting/spoiling effect on IG. The book also does a great job of showing the founder influence on the culture inside the IG network, and how each evolution of the app changed that culture.
Profile Image for jasmine.
268 reviews101 followers
January 20, 2022
No Filter is a deep look into the impacts of Instagram on our lives and its history: from the day Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger met and worked together on Burbn, the start of funding, the redesign of Instagram, the purchase of the company by Mark Zuckerburg and their final resignation.

As a heavy user of Instagram, I had to shamefully admit that I knew nothing about the organization nor their working culture. Most of the history/biography tend to get lengthy and over-detailed, but No Filter compacts the full history of Instagram so well.

There are many parties involved in this tech business, we also get to read about the founders of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube etc. These powerful individuals fight to topple each other and even engage with well-known people in the entertainment industry, politics and religion to promote their platform. There is a joke in the book that mentioned "Instagram is a promoter of Instagram itself" and it's the same for all the other social media platforms.

It shows that the personality of a founder set the direction of a company. Systrom enjoys spending time in nature and even went to Florence to study photography. On the other hand, Zuckerburg is straight up a high achiever and obsessed with data. We can see that the website/app design is a direct reflection of themselves. Systrom wanted to build a community to share the love for photography, which will eventually fail in this capitalist world without investors and income. Zuckerburg wanted to build a company with lots of users and data for the money, which got into lots of privacy and political disputes. Interestingly, Facebook survives.

As our world is slowly moving from capitalism into techno-feudalism, it's highly important to re-evaluate our social media usage. Look into the content we consumed daily and how these conglomerates disrupt our mindset and behaviour. There are lots of scenarios discussed in the book which are raw and spot-on. These days, buildings are designed merely for Instagrammable shots, creators chasing after the numbers in hopes for a return, involved in engagement groups that indirectly put other creators down, indirectly 'shaming' others etc. We had enough competition in our daily life, yet we bring it to this virtual world, which was first built to 'socialize with friends'.

Whether you're a creator or a social media user, everyone should read it.

Rating: 5 stars
Profile Image for Laura Noggle.
670 reviews383 followers
February 12, 2021
An inside look at Instagram — very interesting, and still shocking what people will “do for the 'Gram."

“The more you give up who you are to be liked by other people, it’s a formula for chipping away at your soul. You become a product of what everyone else wants, and not who you’re supposed to be.”
Profile Image for jasmine sun.
130 reviews147 followers
October 28, 2020
I began this book a bit worried about whether I was about to read another Silicon Valley hagiography. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that No Filter is as much a riveting tale of startup drama and Kevin Systrom's quirks—he's a craft coffee fanatic, for instance—as it is about how business and design decisions drive social products' human impact.

Early on, we learn that Systrom and his cofounder Mike Krieger are sticklers for detail. The pair were wary of growth hacks, believing that an uncluttered app and minimal notifications would promote a high-quality—even luxe—experience. And when Zuckerberg eventually convinced them to start running ads (their first partner was Michael Kors), Systrom personally edited the photo to fix the white balance. Consequently, No Filter largely ends up as a story about the culture clash between Instagram and Facebook and between curation and automation.

But there's no need to vindicate Systrom yet: after all, it's all easy to look like the good guy next to the Zuck. For instance, Frier explains how Instagram's aspirational, feel-good brand enabled the platform to escape much of the negative scrutiny Facebook received for issues like misinformation and algorithmic manipulation. While Systrom fraternized with A-listers and redesigned his office, it was Facebook that dealt with the brutal task of content moderation, antitrust hearings, and generating actual profits. Moreover, a 2017 study by the Royal Society for Public Health found that Instagram was the worst social network for young people's mental health. And Instagram's response to the issue—e.g. a hashtag campaign with Kylie Jenner—remained purely and unsatisfactorily cosmetic.

When Zuckerberg put his foot down on the revenue issue, Instagram's PMs conceded to the same features Facebook had already perfected, "like sending more frequent notifications and suggestions to users about who else they should follow... Instagram had long been able to scoff at Facebook’s growth tactics, because Facebook had made growth easy for them." By the end of the book, it certainly feels like Zuckerberg and his ruthless management model won out over Systrom's idealism, and I can't help but wonder whether Instagram's relative utopia could only exist because of Facebook's dystopia.

Either way, I'm glad that Frier challenges readers to look beyond Instagram's slick branding—or the equally reductive assumption that it's just for pretty pictures—when analyzing the app's undeniable cultural impact.
May 1, 2022
Written in a narrative, journalistic fashion, ‘No Filter’ is a great read - the style reminded me of ‘Bad Blood’. Put together using a plethora of interviews, the book takes a deep dive into the interconnected stories of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Vine - with a heavy focus on the Insta story.

The book offers a great view into the highly competitive (bordering on the toxic), and interconnected work dynamics of these social media giants - from the time they were fledglings. The varying personalities of Systrom, Zuckerberg, Krieger, Dorsey, Spiegel are brought to life very well.

The book also goes into the nuances of how the emergence of Instagram has reshaped the celebrity world (the revamp of celebrity brand management), and the many socio-cultural impacts that social media has had in the western (and westernised worlds) over the last 15 years.

This is the second ‘Financial Times - Book of the Year’ winner that I’ve read; the writing standards really show!
Profile Image for Cristina.
512 reviews387 followers
January 27, 2021
If you want to know the full history of Instagram, this is definitely the book you should read. I found out so many particularities about Instagram and Facebook as well. It’s a very well written book that explains the harsh reality behind the app Facebook bought a few years ago.
Profile Image for Adi Rocks Socks.
232 reviews50 followers
May 7, 2021
4 stars

Facebook is the monopolistic tech corporate that almost everyone with access to the internet has heard of. Facebook’s umbrella of products is ubiquitous on the web — right from those share widgets you encounter on almost every page, to that Messenger icon you see to contact support, to all the invisible tracking cookies Facebook uses to track your activity across sites, there is no way to steer clear of this social media giant.

(Yes, Facebook uses cookies, as do most other “advertising platform providers”. I am a little more knowledgable about this than most, seeing as I work as a digital marketer. It is my job to be aware of these things.)

Social media set out initially as a vanity project for us humans — to show off the amazing life each one has to the netizens. Today, while it creates unhealthy cycles of dependency on online approval and visibility, it has become impossible for people to run their businesses, be it small or large, without having an online presence.

The Facebook umbrella, with its ability to allow small & medium businesses put up “online shops”, with its ability to set up instant online chat support via Messenger, and with the insanely specific demographic targeting that you can do to the word out, has pretty much revolutionised the way SMB operate.

But there’s a price that we pay for being able to use platforms like FB, Instagram, WhatsApp, and other companies’ products/apps like Google, YT, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc. for free. We give up our privacy and become the product that these companies offer on a platter to the business owners. Not all SMBs profit from the marketing dollars they spend on these platforms — much like in gambling, the real winner is the house, I.e., the online marketing platform.

You might be wondering why I’ve gone on in depth about marketing. How does this have anything to do with Mark Zuckerberg buying over Instagram?

The understanding of how much Zuckerberg’s company has pervaded our lives needs to be understood in order to truly understand why he went after the relatively tiny photo sharing platform, the acquisition going on to be one of the most expensive ones of all time. Zuckerberg is a genius. Slimy with questionable morals, but a genius nevertheless.

You see, Instagram was once the David to Facebook’s Goliath.

Sarah Frier’s book takes us on Instagram’s journey — right from its humble start to how it caught the eyes of everyone in Silicon Valley, to how it joined the FB umbrella, and eventually lost its individuality.

It’s significant to remember that Instagram, as it changed over time to meet Zuckerberg’s marketing and monetising visions, has changed social media as well. With the (definitely toxic) influencer culture, and the mind-warping importance placed on presenting the perfectly Photoshopped version of yourself, Instagram (and thereby Facebook) has not only changed business and celebrity culture, but also the mental health of its billions of users.

Once you know the impact, reading this book feels like a method to fill in those gaps in your knowledge, which ultimately presents a horrifying Orwellian portrait which makes you feel uneasy.

Written in the style of a Medium article, Frier dispenses facts in an unbiased and dispassionate manner, drawing out connecting threads for our understanding. Some may complain that this book is dry, but an investigative report is no place to bring in humour or jokes, or worse, a biased narrative.

This book was extremely informative and it gave me insights into how the tech-business place works, of the courting/wining/dining process behind any mergers or acquisitions, and of the directions this industry could be going next.

Is Zuckerberg every bit as slimy as I thought him to be?

Yes, more so than I ever imagined.

Is it ethically okay to buy off your only real potential threat, years in advance, at a fraction of what their value would be?

Morally ambiguous, but it sure does ensure your longevity in the game.
Profile Image for Nina.
373 reviews30 followers
December 1, 2020
"“We tried really hard to do that, to be a force for good.” But 1 billion users later, the app they developed to have tremendous cultural influence has been mixed up in a corporate struggle over personality, pride, and priorities. If Facebook’s history is any guide, the real cost of the acquisition will fall on Instagram’s users."

Ova knjiga je opomena za sve buduće društvene mreže. Tužno je bilo pratiti kako je nečiji san propao i kako je morao da napusti svoju sopstvenu kompaniju zbog novca i gramzivosti pojedinaca. Vidi se i pad u kvalitetu Instagrama baš kada su njegovi kreatori digli ruke od svega. Neki bi rekli da je ova priča propala iste sekunde kad su se prodali Fejsbuku. Da li bi uspeli ovoliko da nisu to uradili? To ne možemo nikako znati.
Profile Image for Upanshu Malhotra.
16 reviews13 followers
May 28, 2021
A very good book about Instagram’s early days highlighting its community concept and the troubles it faced in order to keep those communities intact at a later stage.
The book not only explains the success and worries it’s founders had after the acquisition by Facebook, but also the worries which Mark had when Instagram started outgrowing Facebook.
I definitely understand Mark’s jealousy, but to completely not appreciate a division of your company, well only Mark can do.
Giving 4 stars, as I really wanted to know how the company runs after its founders left, how much FB really helps them, and other such questions, which this book doesn’t covers much. Want to know how Mark is handling Instagram after it’s founders exit, or what is Systrom doing after quitting (just a little)
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,659 followers
August 5, 2020
I read this book (in which Zuck is the clear villain) before the congressional whipping (I mean, hearing) of Zuck and the other monopolists for destroying competition. Having read this, I don't think it's clear that IG would have been as successful as it's been alone, but it is clear that they sold it too cheap. It made me respect Snap Evan for rejecting Zuck. The book also made me respect the Kardashians (I know...) for clearly understanding the power of IG before the rest of the world.
Profile Image for Rosh [busy month; will catch up soon!].
1,359 reviews1,199 followers
February 17, 2021
Hardly anyone in the modern world can claim that he/she isn't on any social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp,... There is enough content on social networking for us to keep doomscrolling for hours on end.

A scarier aspect of this sacrifice of productivity and sleep is that three of the top social networking media (Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp) are owned by Mark Zuckerberg under Facebook Inc. I can bet no one in the world knows as much about you as Zuckie & team do. (Jeff Bezos would be a close second.)

In 'No Filter', Bloomberg tech journalist Sarah Frier takes a look at the birth, growth, takeover, and transformation of Instagram, the photo-sharing app created by Kevin Systrom in 2010. His intention was to give people the gift of expression, and also escapism. He designed Instagram to be a democratising, artistic, and inspirational app, the very antithesis of Twitter and Facebook. To quote a line from the book, "If Facebook was about friendships, and Twitter was about opinions, Instagram was about experiences." To a great extent, he was successful. It is because of his vision that hashtags and filters became such an indelible part of our lives. Reality didn’t matter as much as aspiration and creativity. However, in an unexpected turnaround, Systrom accepted Zuckerberg's takeover offer in 2012 at a then unprecedented $1 billion offer. Frier puts it very interestingly: “Facebook buying Instagram was like putting it in a microwave. In a microwave, the food gets hotter faster, but you can easily ruin the dish.”

There have been so many books dedicated to the rise and fall of brick-and-mortar and Internet businesses. But this is one of the few books to provide an insight into a business running mainly from a smartphone. The essential business mentality remains the same but the dynamics differ for such a fickle audience with limited attention spans and a low threshold for boredom.

Sarah Frier's writing style is very factual and journalistic. As most Facebook and Instagram employees couldn't speak with her openly because of their strict non-disclosure agreements, she uses their anonymous, off-the-record talks to build a timeline of Instagram and Facebook since 2010. She also ends up giving a great insight into Zuckerberg's personality and how his mind works to ensure Facebook remains relevant in our lives. It's a bit too much to take in, no matter how aware you already are of your limited online privacy. The extent to which you are constantly being watched and brainwashed, even when you aren't using the app, is mind-boggling.

This was a really insightful read for me, though a tad dry in places. I've never been an avid Instagrammer, and this book showed me why I couldn't get hooked onto that app. Unfortunately, it also gave me a hundred reasons to rethink my use of Facebook. But as long as my Facebook group exists, I can't think of quitting this app. 😅

Some interesting lines from the book on how Facebook and Instagram impact our thinking and our lives:

📸 Instagram would introduce the pressure to post only the best photos, making life seem more perfect than it actually was.

📸 Facebook automatically catalogued every tiny action from its users, not just their comments and clicks but the words they typed and did not send, the posts they hovered over while scrolling and did not click, and the people's names they searched and did not befriend. They could use that data, for instance, to figure out who your closest friends were, defining the strength of the relationship with a constantly changing number between 0 and 1 they called a "friend coefficient". The people rated closest to 1 would always be at the top of your news feed.

📸 For amateur photographers, the only cost is the stress of perfection.

📸 We take photos and videos of our food, our faces, our favorite scenery, our families, and our interests and share them, hoping that they reflect something about who we are or who we aspire to be. We interact with these posts and each other, aiming to forge deeper relationships, stronger networks, or personal brands. It’s just the way modern life works. Rarely do we have the chance to reflect on how we got here and what it means.

📸 (Most fakery on Instagram)... goes unnoticed; it’s just people, behaving the way other people want them to behave, because it’s a good business decision. Those living an Insta-worthy life become sources of entertainment and escapism for those who aren’t.

📸 A filter on Instagram was like if Twitter had a button to make you more clever.

📸 On social media, the average user is scrolling passively, wanting to be entertained and updated on the latest. They are therefore even more susceptible to suggestion by the companies, and by the professional users on a platform who tailor their behavior to what works well on the site.

📸 National Geographic wrote about how Instagram was changing travel: visits to Trolltunga, a photogenic cliff in Norway, increased from 500 a year in 2009 to 40,000 a year in 2014. "What photos of this iconic vista don't reveal is the long line of hikers weaving around the rocky terrain each morning, all waiting for their chance to capture their version of the Instagram-famous shot," the magazine wrote.

📸 Social media isn’t just a reflection of human nature. It’s a force that defines human nature, through incentives baked into the way products are designed.

📸 The more you give up who you are to be liked by other people, it’s a formula for chipping away at your soul. You become a product of what everyone else wants, and not who you’re supposed to be.

Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun.

Follow me on Instagram: RoshReviews
Profile Image for Kenzie | kenzienoelle.reads.
419 reviews65 followers
September 2, 2022
*I had a feeling I would find this book interesting, but I had no idea I would be so absolutely fascinating that I couldn’t stop reading it! A book like this *could* easily read so dry if you’re not interested in the world of apps/social media/silicon valley, but I found it quite the opposite. It was the perfect balance of not being too high brow with the tech language but also giving the reader the adequate information to tell the full story.

“Instagram was one of the first apps to fully exploit our relationship with our phones, compelling us to experience life through a camera for the reward of digital validation.”

*You won’t just learn about the Instagram story in this book. It tells so much of the history of the past 10-ish years of the dominance of social media. From Twitter, to Facebook, to Vine, to Snapchat, to Whatsapp and all the failed apps in between. I learned SO much that I didn’t know and realized to an even greater level just how much social media shapes culture nowadays. Definitely a top read of the year for me!

“The app has become a celebrity-making machine the likes of which the world has never seen. More than 200 million of Instagram‘s users have more than 50,000 followers, the level at which they can make a living wage by posting on behalf of brands, according to the influencer analysis company Dovetale.”
Profile Image for Quang Hưng.
68 reviews9 followers
July 19, 2021
I was late in joining Twitter and Facebook, yet, I was one of the first Instagrammers among my community. My first post on Instagram was just about 1,5 year after its launch, even a little few days before the acquisition by Facebook. Yet, I've never realized that how little I know about one of my daily main-used app. (especially since Facebook has grown enormously to an 'edge of circle' network and no longer an app for homies and close ones).

'No filter' is engrossing as well as enlightening. I was about to write some lines to beguile my circle to read it, but the blurb in the back of the book is already exhaustive and genuinely intriguing.

If you are just an ordinary user of the Facebook ecosystem like me, once you finish reading this book, you would never look at it the same way again.
Profile Image for Bartosz Majewski.
283 reviews217 followers
April 3, 2021
Everyone know that Instagram was bought by facebook after a year in existence, with zero revenue for a billion dollars. I was curious about the second part of the story. What happened after the acquisition? Why did founders stayed for another six years instead of a traditional "rest and vest"?

I roughly got what i wanted. The only issue with this book is that it's a very recent and public story. We've all lived through pieces of it so a lot of this story was already in my head prior to reading the book.
Profile Image for Michal Meško.
17 reviews300 followers
January 12, 2022
Fascinujúci príbeh o vzniku Instagramu a paralelného sveta, ktorý sa zrodil spolu s ním. O vnútornom boji zakladateľov medzi snahou o dokonalosť a vnímaním nevyhnutnosti rastu. O desivom prehliadaní moci sociálnych sietí spoločnosťou i regulátormi, a jej ešte desivejšom koncentrovaní do pár rúk. Prelínanie faktografického opisu udalostí s úvahami o vplyve technológií a budúcnosti ich fungovania s nami vytvára fakt dobré čítanie.

“Internet kedysi odrážal ľudstvo, ale dnes ľudstvo odráža internet.”
Profile Image for Adrián Ciutat.
190 reviews26 followers
January 28, 2021
Lo de secreta no sé muy bien de dónde se lo saca. Creo que hay pocos datos que aparezcan en este libro que no se puedan encontrar en internet.
Por otro lado se nota el esfuerzo de la autora de hacer un ensayo ameno: muy novelado, buscando una buena caracterización de personajes, quizá demasiado en la onda de la película ‘La Red Social’.
Es entretenido pero cae en uno de los peores rasgos que se le puede atribuir a un ensayo: poco revelador.
79 reviews6 followers
April 28, 2020
Pretty detailed and insightful read. Being told mainly by Instagram insiders, it's obviously one-sided, but far from being a boring corporate acquisition tale. Raises some important societal issues, and has quite a few examples of the law of unintended consequences kicking in at large scale.
Profile Image for Eleanor Metcalf.
104 reviews1 follower
December 14, 2020
As someone who both loathes and is obsessed with the workings of this godforsaken app, I picked up “No Filter” with eager anticipation. The ‘tech expose’ is a well-established genre by now, spanning books, journalism, documentary and even cinema, and I was interested to see which of the various approaches Frier took. 

Unfortunately, “No Filter” lacked the high corporate drama of “Bad Blood”, and the dramatic character conflict of “The Social Network”. It was too lofty for Taylor Lorenz’s granular observation of social media behaviours, and its primary focus on corporate procedure meant its limited socio-cultural analysis was shallow at best compared to a writer like Jia Tolentino. It didn’t interweave a human story amongst the corporate one, as Anna Wiener did in “Uncanny Valley”, and it lacked the direct-to-camera brutality and the queasy feeling of personal implication of “The Social Dilemma”. 

Instead, Frier decided to amalgamate all of her sources’ comments into, as she explains, ‘a narrative style, presenting the story through an omniscient perspective that incorporates all these different memories.’ Apart from a few standout quotes from oddly-chosen individuals (directly quoting Ashton Kutcher but favouring reported speech for all of Instagram’s actual employees was an interesting choice), the narrative becomes a neutral, sequential ‘and then, and then, and then’ reporting of the various decisions which saw Instagram gradually brought further and further under Facebook’s corporate wing.

What the book reminded me of more than anything was the massive timeline on Hitler’s rise to power I made for my history GCSE by sticking 3 pieces of A4 paper together: technically factually accurate, but giving unfair equal weighting to events with unequal importance, and retrospectively bestowing a false impression of strategic planning upon moments which were more likely guided by organisational mismanagement.

Perhaps if you’ve literally never read an article about Silicon Valley/Mark Zuckerberg/Cambridge Analytica you might find this book interesting, but if you’re vaguely informed about the interrelations of social media/politics/culture/business then this book will bring you no new insight. After the Instagram origin story and early acquisition process, the rest of the book is dominated by an overly simplistic narrative of ‘Instagram woz gr8 but Zuck was mean and managed it badly’. Would recommend reading/watching any of the above references rather than spending time on this.
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