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A penetrating indictment of how today’s largest tech companies are hijacking our data, our livelihoods, our social fabric, and our minds—from an acclaimed Financial Times columnist and CNN analyst
“Don’t be evil” was enshrined as Google’s original corporate mantra back in its early days, when the company’s cheerful logo still conveyed the utopian vision for a future in which technology would inevitably make the world better, safer, and more prosperous.
Unfortunately, it’s been quite a while since Google, or the majority of the Big Tech companies, lived up to this founding philosophy. Today, the utopia they sought to create is looking more dystopian than ever: from digital surveillance and the loss of privacy to the spreading of misinformation and hate speech to predatory algorithms targeting the weak and vulnerable to products that have been engineered to manipulate our desires.
How did we get here? How did these once-scrappy and idealistic enterprises become rapacious monopolies with the power to corrupt our elections, co-opt all our data, and control the largest single chunk of corporate wealth—while evading all semblance of regulation and taxes? In Don’t Be Evil, Financial Times global business columnist Rana Foroohar tells the story of how Big Tech lost its soul—and ate our lunch.
Through her skilled reporting and unparalleled access—won through nearly thirty years covering business and technology—she shows the true extent to which behemoths like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon are monetizing both our data and our attention, without us seeing a penny of those exorbitant profits.
Finally, Foroohar lays out a plan for how we can resist, by creating a framework that fosters innovation while also protecting us from the dark side of digital technology.
Advance praise for Don’t Be Evil
“At first sight, Don’t Be Evil looks like it’s doing for Google what muckraking journalist Ida Tarbell did for Standard Oil over a century ago. But this whip-smart, highly readable book’s scope turns out to be much broader. Worried about the monopolistic tendencies of big tech? The addictive apps on your iPhone? The role Facebook played in Donald Trump’s election? Foroohar will leave you even more worried, but a lot better informed.”—Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford, and author of The Square and the Tower
About the Author
Rana Foroohar is a global business columnist and an associate editor for the Financial Times and CNN’s global economic analyst. She was awarded the 2018 Best in Business Award by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) for her opinion writing on the world’s technology companies. Previously, Foroohar was the assistant managing editor in charge of business and economics at Time, as well as the magazine’s economic columnist. She also spent thirteen years at Newsweek as an economic and foreign affairs editor and a foreign correspondent. During that time, she was awarded the German Marshall Fund’s Peter R. Weitz Prize for transatlantic reporting. She has received awards and fellowships from institutions such as the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the East-West Center. She is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
“This book goes beyond the economic problems of market distortion and monopoly power and examines the broader implications for society of the untrammeled and under-regulated Silicon Valley companies. Foroohar demonstrates that while the creed ‘don’t be evil’ may have initially inspired the Silicon Valley giants, its principle has long been left behind.”—Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in economics
“If journalism is the first rough draft of history, then we are most fortunate to have Rana Foroohar’s laser vision and trenchant business analysis turned on the tech giants and the gluttonous anti-democratic surveillance capitalism that is their most far-reaching innovation. Foroohar’s examination of Big Tech’s audacity, plunder, and self-dealing economics is a crucial contribution to the growing debate on how to constrain the dark power of the tech corporations, binding them to the real needs of people and society.”—Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism and Professor Emerita at Harvard Business School
“Rana Foroohar’s new book explains how Big Tech firms have moved permanently beyond the reach of tax laws by leveraging the same opaque financial wizardry and scale that big banks did before the financial crisis, while also exploiting information asymmetries that demote us from citizens to mere consumers. Her urgent message: ‘Yes, we really are living in the Matrix,’ and it’s time to rise up and resist our algorithmic overlords. This book shows us how.”—Cathy O’Neil, The New York Times bestselling author of Weapons of Math Destruction and CEO of ORCAA
“The first book on the big tech crisis to propose a set of realistic solutions. This book should be read by every policy maker both in the United States and around the world. As Foroohar makes clear, the self-regulation of Big Tech is not an option, and she proposes real-world solutions that could make a big difference.”—Jonathan Taplin, Director Emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California and author of Move Fast and Break Things
“Giant tech companies are an ungoverned global economic and social force that we all must understand. They contribute to division and threaten the ‘very cohesion of society.’ Foroohar’s big-picture thinking is much needed. This compelling and deeply informed book will help guide our responses to a dangerous new era.”—David Kirkpatrick, The New York Times bestselling author of The Facebook Effect
“Rana Foroohar is a beacon of insight in the world of financial journalism. In Don’t Be Evil, she applies her brilliance to the increasingly nightmarish behavior of tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. It is a must-read.”—Roger McNamee, The New York Times bestselling author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe
“When we choose technology’s convenience without considering its tradeoffs, we ceded control to a muscular, unregulated strain of capitalism that is now costing us far more than we thought. Don’t Be Evil comes just in time, with a warning citizens, policy makers, and the tech industry itself can no longer afford to ignore.”—John Battelle, co-founder of Wired and author of The Search