6 Books About The Dark Side of Social Media

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Anna Gooding-Call

Staff Writer

Anna Gooding-Call is a librarian and writer originally from rural central New York. She got her BA in the city that inspired "The Twilight Zone" and confirms that the hitchhikers really are weird there. Today, she lives in Massachusetts with her wife and two cats.

Sure, it can help us organize protests and stay in touch with far-away relatives, but did you know that there’s a dark side of social media? It’s true! If you’re here because you didn’t know that, then leave. Now. You are not ready and we do not want to scare you. However, if you’re merely embittered by the toxic sludge that lurks below the cut on YouTube, then welcome, friend. Our favorite authors agree with you: social media can be the worst.


Feed by M.T. Anderson

Believe it or not, this famous cautionary tale about social media predates Facebook! When a hacker separates a group of teens from their in-brain Internet connections, they have to spend time without their information feeds for the first time in their lives. That means that they suddenly have the chance to question the consumerism, lack of privacy, and invasiveness of their way of life.

the circle

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The dark side of social media is most apparent from the back end! The Circle is the most powerful social media company in the world—in fact, it may be the most powerful company in the world full stop. Employee perks are choice: parties, pools, rare fish, and gourmet food. That said, combining people’s private and online identities is a recipe for disaster, as one hapless newcomer soon discovers.


#Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil

Just in case you thought that the prison industrial complex couldn’t get any worse, here’s a story about social media turning a jail into viral entertainment. When an innocent woman winds up incarcerated, she’s determined to clear her name before the roving squad of executioners offs her. But is that what the people really want?


Meatspace by NIkesh Shukla

When life takes away your girlfriend, your job, and your self-respect, you may find yourself obsessive over Twitter and Tumblr posts all day. But if you’re Kitab, you may also find yourself with an aggressive new “friend” who thinks they know you based on the false persona you’ve cultivated online! Good luck blocking someone who’s decided to show up at your front door.


Slay by Brittney Morris

Kiera Johnson never suspects that building a computer game that celebrates Blackness could get her in trouble, but it does. When another teen is murdered IRL over an in-game dispute, Kiera must deal with racist trolls, racist media coverage, and the fact that nobody, not even her family, knows that she’s the game’s developer. As the media and legal storm intensifies, she’ll need to decide how to deal with it. Will she capitulate and shut down the game…or fight?


#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar

A sociopath with flawless socials, a rival with flawless hair, and personalities that are absolutely nothing but flaws in fine clothing. Anya St. Clair’s only obstacle on the path to fashion industry greatness is that mole Sarah Taft, who’s got everything from the money to the looks to—probably—the next big promotion. Not if Anya has anything to say about it!

Not all social media is bad, of course. Find out how librarians use their Twitter powers for good!