Policy Matters: Roger McNamee On Why We’re ‘Zucked’

Nov 5, 2019

On this episode of Policy Matters, host Rick Mullaney spends the whole show with Roger McNamee, author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

The World Affairs Council brought McNamee to Jacksonville to talk with audiences at the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute, where Mullaney is director, and at the University of North Florida.

Before writing his book, he was an advisor to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the company’s early days, as well as a longtime venture capitalist, musician and, today, an activist working on issues of privacy and big tech.

Highlights from this program:

On what led to his retirement in 2012:

“Silicon Valley's culture went from technology that empowered people to technology that really treated human beings as a natural resource, a source of fuel. That culturally was a huge problem for me… I realized that the best and brightest in Silicon Valley were creating businesses that conflicted with my value system.”

Even though his book is available on Amazon, on why McNamee doesn’t recommend ordering it through an Alexa-enabled device that listens inside your home:

“The business model being used by Google, by Facebook, by Microsoft, by Amazon, encourages them to do things that no corporation should do. And the notion of Alexa, which is an Amazon product, being in people's bedrooms or in their offices, listening all the time? Those should be sanctuaries that, you know — this company shouldn’t be invading that. And these corporations basically say, ‘If we touch a piece of data, no matter how intimate it is, if we touch it, we own it, we can do with it what we like.’”

And why he’s optimistic there’s political will to change what is a very profitable system:

“Now you can't go anywhere without people talking about it. I'm so excited because I think the 2020 election this is going to be a giant issue all over the place because it doesn't matter what your party persuasion is, you can run on this issue.”