“Social media isn’t just changing our lives. It’s changing the world, and even its creators and would-be overseers have only the foggiest ideas about how. In this meticulously reported, grippingly told account, Max Fisher chases the results across continents, and paints a disturbing picture of not just where we are, but where we’re going. The Chaos Machine is an essential book for our times.”—Ezra Klein, author of the New York Times bestseller Why We’re Polarized
“Well-researched and thoroughly unnerving… Fisher’s lucid, clear explanations and convincing arguments are bound to leave readers questioning their own use of social media.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A scathing account of the manifold ills wrought by social media… There’s no shortage of books lamenting the evils of social media, but what’s impressive here is how Fisher brings it all together: the breadth of information, covering everything from the intricacies of engagement-boosting algorithms to theories of sentimentalism, makes this a one-stop shop. It’s a well-researched, damning picture of just what happens online.”—Publishers Weekly
“An often riveting, disturbing examination of the social media labyrinth and the companies that created it… Fisher dives into the chaotic social media landscape, synthesizing dozens of interviews from a wide range of sources… he examines the rise of the social media giants and the dangers they have created for our society… Fisher is spot-on when he describes how the promotion and manufacture of moral outrage were not glitches in the system but inherent features.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In this timely book, Max Fisher reveals how powerful social-media giants set all of humanity on an alternative course to the future. The Chaos Machine boldly exposes how a few technology companies chose profit over people, helped spread salacious misinformation, and ultimately ripped the fabric of society apart. I hope everyone will read this important investigation with an open mind, because we must choose a different path forward, and fast.”—Amy Webb, author of The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity
“Max Fisher blends together deep reporting, riveting stories, and a global canvas in this gripping and definitive work on the damage wrought by social media. The Chaos Machine is essential reading if you want to understand a force that is reshaping the world and the very real consequences it is having on people everywhere.”—Ben Rhodes, author of the New York Times bestseller The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House
The Commonwealth Club of California hosts New York Times investigative reporter Max Fisher as he looks at how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social networks drive everyday users to extreme opinions and, increasingly, extreme actions.