Book Review Wednesday: No Filter by Sarah Frier

When I heard that there was a book coming out about the history of Instagram, the nerd in me was very exciting. I love learning about tech, startups, and companies that I'm a fan of. I know the story of Facebook was filled with drama (see: The Social Network) so Instagram being part of Facebook, I knew there was something else there.

I also work in social media as my full-time job and my hobbies so learning more about all of the social platforms interests me on a personal & professional level.

I was lucky enough to get an early ARC of No Filter by Sarah Frier from NetGalley and I was over the moon! I read the book in a few days and spoiler alert: I highly recommend everyone who loves Instagram to read this.


Publisher's Summary

In 2010, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger released a photo-sharing app called Instagram, with one simple but irresistible feature: it would make anything you captured through your phone look more beautiful. The cofounders started to cultivate a community of photographers and artisans around the app, but it quickly went mainstream. In less than two years, it caught Facebook’s attention: Mark Zuckerberg bought the company for a historic $1 billion when Instagram was just 13 employees.

That might have been the end of a classic success story. But the cofounders stayed on, trying to maintain Instagram’s beauty, brand, and cachet, considering their app a separate company within the social networking giant. They urged their employees to make changes only when necessary, resisting Facebook’s grow-at-all-costs philosophy in favor of a strategy that highlighted creativity and celebrity. Just as Instagram was about to reach 1 billion users, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg—once supportive of the founders’ autonomy—began to feel threatened by Instagram’s success.

At its heart, No Filter is a human story, as Sarah Frier uncovers how the company’s decisions have fundamentally changed how we interact with the world around us. Frier draws on unprecedented exclusive access—from the founders of Instagram, as well as employees, executives, and competitors; Anna Wintour of Vogue; Kris Jenner of the Kardashian-Jenner empire; and a plethora of influencers, from fashionistas with millions of followers to owners of famous dogs worldwide—to show how Instagram has fundamentally changed the way we shop, eat, travel, and communicate, all while fighting to preserve the values which contributed to the company’s success. No Filter examines how Instagram’s dominance acts as lens into our society today, highlighting our fraught relationship with technology, our desire for perfection, and the battle within tech for its most valuable commodity: our attention.

My Thoughts

"No Filter" covers everything about Instagram, from start to finish -- and by finish I mean when the founders left the company.

We got the full story about the app that changed the world: how it came to be, how Facebook bought it because it was competition, and how Mark Zuckerberg kept the filtered photo app from cannibalizing Facebook -- or at least he tried.

I had no idea there was so much drama surrounding Instagram, or how Facebook was so involved, yet not involved. We got a look at the reason for the algorithm changes, why and how it took so long for certain updates to be mad, and what the founders' true vision for the app was. They never intended for it to be used the way we use it, and in my mind, it makes me feel a little dirty. 

The entire book is so interesting - I cannot get over how good it was. If you love reading about companies (i.e: Bad Blood), you will love No Filter. 

One of my favorite parts about the book was the fact that this is all very recent. It's history, yes, but the history we were all around for. When Sarah started mentioning Pinterest and Snapchat, I remember being the first amongst my friends to use the apps. I remember when I first got Facebook and how Myspace seemingly disappeared from society. 

The fact that all of this massive technological change happened within the past ten years is insane and I loved learning the intricate details of it all. 

Sarah Frier's writing is captivating, well researched and so interesting. She writes in a way that makes the story easy to understand but with passion & emotion behind it. You could tell that she spent a lot of time on this book, but of course, that is necessary when writing a book like this.

If you are someone who loves to learn about the ins and outs of your favorite companies, work in social media, or any kind of media, you need to read this. I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone on the planet if they use Instagram. It's very eye-opening and makes you see the platform a little differently. 

There's a reason no one could stop talking about "No Filter"... it is that good.

xoxo
B