The Trouble With Books

One thing I’m not sure most people realize is that unlike magazine articles, books don’t go through any kind of formal fact-checking process whatsoever. An author worried about inadvertent errors sneaking into his work (i.e., me) can hire someone out of pocket to check things, but there’s nothing stopping an unscrupulous writer from just passing off fabrications as true. Ben Mezrich’s Bringing Down the House (the basis for 21), for example “is not a work of “nonfiction” in any meaningful sense of the word.”

So it’s no surprise to see that Mezrich’s proposal for a tell-all book about the true story behind Facebook seems to have some questionable sourcing. But some of this stuff is just sloppy — Mezrich talks a bunch, for example, about a Facebook predecessor that he thinks was called “FaceSmash” but was in fact called “FaceMash.” They have a campus newspaper and everything that covered this when it happened.