The Death of Truth: How Social Media and the Internet Gave Snake Oil Salesmen and Demagogues the Weapons They Needed to Destroy Trust and Polarize the World--And What We Can Do (Hardcover)

The Death of Truth: How Social Media and the Internet Gave Snake Oil Salesmen and Demagogues the Weapons They Needed to Destroy Trust and Polarize the World--And What We Can Do By Steven Brill Cover Image
$30.00
On Our Shelves Now....best to call before coming in to pick up.
On hand as of Jul 17 6:37pm
(General Non-Fiction)

Description


How did we become a world where facts—shared truths—have lost their power to hold us together as a community, as a country, globally? How have we allowed the proliferation of alternative facts, hoaxes, even conspiracy theories, to destroy our trust in institutions, leaders, and legitimate experts? Best-selling journalist Steven Brill documents the forces and people, from Silicon Valley to Madison Avenue to Moscow to Washington, that have created and exploited this world of chaos and division—and offers practical solutions for what we can do about it.

"A precise description of the punishment cell we have built around our minds and the first few steps back towards light and air." –Timothy Snyder, Author of On Tyranny and Professor of History, Yale University

“A seminal, ground-breaking, documented and honest examination of two of the central dilemmas of our time—what is truth and where to find it.” —Bob Woodward, associate editor at The Washington Post


As the cofounder of NewsGuard, a company that tracks online misinformation, Steven Brill has observed the rise of fake news from a front-row seat. In The Death of Truth, with startling, often terrifying clarity, he explains how we got here—and how we can get back to a world where truth matters.

None of this—conspiracy theories embraced, expertise ridiculed, empirical evidence ignored—has happened by accident. Brill takes us inside the decisions made by executives in Silicon Valley to code the algorithms embedded in their social media platforms to maximize profits by pushing divisive content. He unravels the ingenious creation of automated advertising buying systems that reward that click-baiting content and penalize reliable news publishers, and describes how the use of these ad-financed, misinformation platforms by politicians, hucksters, and conspiracy theorists deceives ordinary citizens. He documents how the most powerful adversaries of America have used American-made social media and advertising tools against us with massive disinformation campaigns—and how, with the development of generative artificial intelligence, everything could get exponentially worse unless we act. The stakes are high for all of us, including Brill himself, whose company's role in exposing Russian disinformation operations resulted in a Russian agent targeting him and his family.

Crucially, Brill lays out a series of provocative but realistic prescriptions for what we can do now to reverse course—proposals certain to stir debate and even action that could curb the power of big tech to profit from division and chaos, tamp down polarization, and restore the trust necessary to bring us together.

About the Author


STEVEN BRILL is the best-selling author of The Teamsters, America’s Bitter Pill, and Tailspin. He has written for The New York Times, Time, The New Yorker, and other national publications. Brill is the cofounder and co-CEO of NewsGuard, which rates the reliability of news and information websites. He is also the founder of The American Lawyer, Brill’s Content magazine, Court TV, the CLEAR registered traveler program, and the Yale Journalism Initiative. He lives near New York City.

Praise For…


"A precise description of the punishment cell we have built around our minds and the first few steps back towards light and air." –Timothy Snyder, Author of On Tyranny and Professor of History, Yale University

“With a front row seat in the battle against disinformation, Steven Brill has produced another riveting narrative based on his trademark, trailblazing reporting. The Death of Truth is the definitive story about a world in crisis and a prescription for how to fix it. From Silicon Valley to Madison Avenue to the Capitol on January 6 to Moscow (where Russian security agents directed threats against him), Brill has pulled together in one story all the forces that have pulled us apart” –Jill Abramson, former Executive Editor, The New York Times

“A seminal, ground-breaking, documented and honest examination of two of the central dilemmas of our time—what is truth and where to find it.” —Bob Woodward, associate editor at The Washington Post and author of fifteen #1 New York Times best sellers

"A deep dive into the muck of fake news...Brill, author of The Teamsters and America’s Bitter Pill, examines the “toxic mix” of misinformation, disinformation, myths, alternative “facts,” and conspiracy theories that have proliferated online, leading to a lack of belief in shared truths, distrust in the legitimacy of science and expertise, and an erosion of our sense of community.... Underscoring the acute need for reform, the author offers suggestions, including amending Section 230 to account for dangerous algorithms, ending online anonymity, directing the Federal Trade Commission to enforce providers’ contracts with users to protect them from harmful content, and bolstering online news and information literacy for K-12 students...A brisk, well-informed, and urgent message."—Kirkus Reviews

“Brill’s new book The Death of Truth is not a just-in-time gift to America, it is a vital, past-due last chance to free global societies as we slide into the quicksand of a genuine Orwellian world.  Misguided media promoting misinformation is not new, leading wrongly to wars as we know over the sinking of the Maine in 1898, the Mexican American War of 1846, and the burning of the Reichstag in 1933. However, Brill shows us how new uncontrolled commercial social media platforms have the distortion of truth as a core business model, playing recklessly into the hand of demagoguery.  Happily Brill goes beyond despair to show how freedom and truth can be fortified with swift collective action addressing technology, law, policy, and cultures.” —Jeffrey Sonnenfeld; Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies at Yale University and founder and CEO of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute

"The Death of Truth offers a rare combination of powerful reporting and persuasive commentary. Brill’s proposed approach, which seeks to avoid censorship while simultaneously curbing the vices of Silicon Valley control, is ingenious and perhaps visionary. His book is also a memorable personal testament to the pursuit of truth in our too often and too easily morally compromised world."—Floyd Abrams, First Amendment attorney and author of The Soul of the First Amendment


Product Details
ISBN: 9780525658313
ISBN-10: 0525658319
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English