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Facebook: The Inside Story

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,501 ratings  ·  164 reviews
He has had unprecedented 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.

In his sophomore year of college, Mark Zuckerberg created a simple website to serve as a campus social network. The site caught on like wildfi
Hardcover, 592 pages
Published February 25th 2020 by Blue Rider Press
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Emily Carlin
A readable history of Facebook. Also, in some senses, a biography of its founder.

I thought Levy was a little too neutral, but maybe that’s the price he had to pay for the level of access he got (many interviews with Zuckerberg, Sandberg, etc.). The book veers a bit into glorifying-boy-genius-founder territory, but does temper that by suggesting a healthy dose of luck was necessary for FB’s success (examples of companies doing similar things at slightly different times, etc.).

Even with the neut
Michel Salim
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating history

As a Facebook engineer who joined just before the 2016 election, this is a fascinating insight into what the management thinks about the issues of the day as well as Facebook's mission.

Not commenting on the facts, but the atmosphere portrayed, and the big picture, seems accurate.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's a fascinating book and I did learn some things that I hadn't read before, but I think Levy is a little too besotted by Mark and seems to excuse him and push everyone else under the bus for some of the mistakes that clearly go in his sphere. For example, it was Sheryl's fault that the pre-election cambridge analytica scandal didn't get dealt with? Come on! And other engineers' fault that people weren't told about the privacy breaches? Seems like the common thread is Mark. It's not completely ...more
Sep 11, 2020 rated it liked it
More access journalism than insightful analysis. While the book does benefit from interviews with the top management, there is only cursory discussion of the volleys of criticism that have come Facebook's way - their treatment of privacy data, or their lax enforcement on inciteful material or conspiracy theory.

The first half of the book tends to veer into 'gee whiz, look at the boy genius' territory, but there is some flashes of revealing management's decision processes on how to grow the compa
Eddie Chen
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If I could give it 6 stars I would. This book is a very good, and more importantly, fair and thorough, reflection of the journey Facebook took from a viral phenom in Harvard to the global behemoth today. A good-read for people interested in FB/Silicon Valley, and a must-read for incoming/current FB employees.

Here's a few highlights and takeaways I jotted down, purely abstract takeaways from this book without touching on the actual facts:

1/. You (generic you) need to be in the best environments
May 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is there to say about Facebook that hasn’t already been said? There isn’t really much in here that you won’t find in the litany of press coverage the company has gotten over the years. This then raises the question of, why bother with putting this together with the multiple years of exclusive access Levy got? Why does exclusive access matter when you could ostensibly put together roughly the same book by stringing together articles from The Verge into chapters?

This book is much too long for
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Not only a business biography but also basically a biography of the founder of Facebook, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg.
Very detailed and well researched which I expected since Steven Levy was well connected to Facebook and to MZ himself for many years.
I already knew a bit about the Facebook story and the struggles they faced on their way to the top. Really interesting to see how privacy was always and still is a key challenge and how the dealt with it over and over again.

With the privacy disaster of
Fawaz Abdul rahman
Tells the story of Facebook, and stories of all its other major apps such as whatsapp and instagram.
and discusses facebook's approaches towards privacy, growth and future palns.
as well about major scandals especially the recent ones during the 2016 election.
João Carlos Pires
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An awesome book!

Instead of accepting the terms and conditions and the privacy policy before creating an account on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp or using an Oculus product, users should read this book.

An amazing vision of the world's biggest social network company.

The facts and the curiosities inside this book are fantastic and some of them were absolutly new to me.

Recommend it a lot!
Ricardo Motti
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a business story that reads like a thriller. Because you know drama is just around the corner, every seemingly correct decision foreshadows catastrophic consequences down the line.

Actually made me hate FB a bit less. You can see how lots of misguided irreversible decisions compound over time and... well, here we are.

Can't recommend this enough if you work with digital advertising or tech companies. Stellar.
Florin Pitea
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
Quite interesting, relevant and very well documented. Recommended.
Raymond Xu
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Facebook is the company that has the biggest influence on how people communicate. We all need to see how it operates, and its historical context for its actions, in order to understand its modern day issues on data and treatment of user privacy.

Levy guides us with great detail via exclusive interviews and insider information for how Facebook came to be, with a slight narrative focus on its unforeseen negative effects on society. This focus is good and makes the book captivating, because most of
Nikhil Thota
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After being a cog in Facebook's system for about a year now, I wanted to peer into the internal machinery that allows the company to execute so efficiently. That machinery is well oiled through Zuck's 51% controlling share of the company — this allows him unilateral control over anything that Facebook does. For better, or for worse.

It's clear that Zuck and Co. had idealistic ideas for the future of social applications, but when you "move fast and break things", you can only make sense of things
Jun 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Very detailed, interesting look at the origins of Facebook and it's first nearly 15 years of existence. Levy is a great tech writer and clearly had tons of sources for this one. My only minor gripe about the book itself is that it probably could've been edited and refined a bit more. I didn't need a two paragraph bio of every single Facebook employee or executive that pops up in the story - just felt like unnecessary resume sharing at a certain point.

But the book is definitely worth reading if
Ava Spataru
Feb 24, 2021 rated it liked it
I appreciated that at the start of the book the author presented everything matter-of-factly, but towards the second half this changed.

All events were highly dramatized and some of the epithets used to describe different situations were hyperbolized to demonize the company. The image presented towards the end of the book is focused solely on the negative side, overlooking any positive or optimistic views by brushing them off with snarky comments. The positive views that do get mentioned are oft
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, tech
An essential read. If you want to understand today's reality and changes that happened in the last two decades, you have to understand the force that stood behind many of them. Unfortunately, this force is the creation of a teenage college dropout. Steven Levy from "Wired" takes a deep dive into this story, but don't be discouraged by the 500 pages - it is a fascinating read, balanced but not without wit and occasional irony. ...more
Simon Mills
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Thorough, fair and thoughtful book about Facebook from its founding and origin story until mid 2019 with the launch of Libra. Great read, similar to Superpumped (uber) and The Everything Store (amazon).
Timothy Liu
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a really great and comprehensive book about the history of facebook. The author goes into a fantastic amount of detail while still keeping the book highly readable.
Lewis S
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s a well written book and although pretty long it feels like it keeps a good pace.

Hard to give five stars for something so depressing though.
Moritz Mueller-Freitag
An up-to-date, largely sympathetic portrait of the social network that chronicles how relentless growth and a business model that thrives on polarization planted the seeds for an epic reputational meltdown. At 550 pages, Levy's “inside story” is richly detailed but far less groundbreaking than expected. The book would have been stronger if the author had occasionally stepped out of the narrative to pass judgment or to explore in depth how Silicon Valley works. Instead he passed on that burden to ...more
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: tech, non-fiction
Steven Levy is the editor of Wired. He's also the journalist whose delved into the world of big tech, from 'The Life and Times of Macintosh' to 'In the Plex' (on Google). His latest offering sees him exploring another giant - Facebook.

Steven has known Mark Zuckerberg for a considerable period of time, and 'The Inside Story' features a lot of snippets from interviews. Sheryl Sandberg features less prominently, partly because he had to wangle more time with her.

Beginning from Mark Zuckerberg's c
Alex Moskalyuk
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Quite accurate and insightful.
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great insight into Facebook's history and a closer look into Mark Zuckerberg's intriguing personality. ...more
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Terrific read about a man, a company, an industry and an era. Levy did a remarkable amount of information gathering and had enough access to make his book ring true. The book is arranged topically more than chronologically - which makes complete sense from a story telling perspective but which made it a little confusing at times to know what was happening when. Useful resource documenting the development of social media writ large as well. Very engaging.
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
The first third of this book is an interesting story about the early days of the company. The rest is just re-telling of last years' critical coverage of the scandals associated with Facebook with little insight or new information. ...more
Jonathan Mckay
15th book of 2020. An Outsider's view.

If you want an entertaining remix of the facts, I would recommend watching 'The Social Network.' It's equally inaccurate and has a better soundtrack.

Having worked closely on the areas that Levy covers, I can affirm that Levy is no Bob Woodward. Levy's book reads like a summary of press from 2017-2019, too busy dunking on Facebook's mistakes to bring any new insight to the table. If you want to understand Facebook, read Ben Thompson's newsletter, or Chaos M
Dennis McClure
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Facebook is a fixed, if controversial, part of our culture. I found this exploration of its history fascinating. Well written, of course. This author has impeccable credentials.

To understand the evolution of Facebook is to understand the evolution of the world we live I n.
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pick this book up if you want to understand Facebook as a company! The author explores Facebook's journey from a small college project to a Silicon Valley darling that ends up losing public trust when its "move fast and break things" approach reveals harmful side effects. While most of the facts in this journey are relatively well-know, the inside view of the reasoning within the company and among decision-makers at certain key moments is enlightening.

I found it interesting to learn about the co
Lahiru Perera
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a good one. Steven runs through almost everything since Facebook's early days. Goes into detail about some significant areas as you might expect. Though some parts I felt Steven was being a little too kind on Facebook. ...more
Bargain Sleuth Book Reviews
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
For this and other book reviews, visit

If you’ve seen The Social Dilemma on Netflix, then you may want to delve deeper into the social media quagmire headed by Facebook.

Faceboook: The Inside Story by Steven Levy. This was one of those Amazon Gold Box Deals a few weeks ago so I got both the book and audio book for Bargain Sleuth-approved prices; it is a very well researched and informative book, not dry and technical like it could have been.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship
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Steven Levy is editor at large at Wired, and author of eight books, including the new Facebook: the Inside Story, the definitive history of that controversial company. His previous works include the legendary computer history Hackers, Artificial Life, the Unicorn 's Secret, In the Plex (the story of Google, chose as Amazon and Audible's best business book of 2011), and Crypto, which won the Frankf ...more

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