Katie Talks to ‘An Ugly Truth’ Authors About Exposing the Flaws Inside Facebook

an ugly truth book

The New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang spoke to us about their new book.

A new book, An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination, gives readers a peek behind the curtain at the decision-makers who engineered the tech giant’s rise and the flaws within the machine that have thrown it into scandal. And Katie recently spoke to the authors about exposing these truths.

“There are incredibly consequential decisions that are made within that company. And I think users have rarely gotten a feeling of what the rooms look like in which those decisions were made,” said Sheera Frenkel, who wrote the book with her colleague at The New York Times, Cecilia Kang. “Ultimately we’re talking about a very small group of people…who make decisions that impact people all over the world.”

The authors spoke to Katie about how founder Mark Zuckerberg’s ambition “to become this global empire,” as Frenkel put it, came at the expense of users’ privacy. And how his vision seeped throughout the company, so that Facebook’s leadership prioritized growing its user base with the understanding that there would be “collateral damage,” Kang said. 

That calculus is illustrated in an internal memo, written by a Facebook executive, from which the book takes its name. 

“Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools…The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is de facto good…” the memo reads.

Kang and Frenkel also spoke to Katie about the shocking sophistication of Facebook’s predictive technology, the rocky relationship between Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, and the company’s ongoing struggle to stamp out misinformation on its platform in our full interview. Watch it here.