When taking a closer look at ‘social networks’, the realization comes quick: the word social should not be taken in the literal sense. A post about Silicon Valley CEO’s getting rich of our backs and fair alternatives to social platforms.
Social media networks do not commodify their goods in the traditional sense: they receive their market value through the users themselves and user data, which they sell to advertisers. These advertisers, are companies, that then know enough about us, to target us with their ad’s in a highly efficient way. So whenever, we share, like, comment or upload on one of our social media profiles, we do unpaid work for Zuckerberg and the likes. We are consumers and producers and the same time; economists call it “prosumers” (Fuchs, 2014).
At the same time, as Hilder explains, we now live in a world, where grassroots online activism can be of great power (2007). Besides, feeling like belonging to a group is something that Maslow explains in his pyramid of needs, is human and desired. We create meaning out of social media platforms, but it is taken from us by the platforms owners and companies. Who create profit out of it. A hell lot of profit.
The Occupy Movement, for example, recognized this grievance and used an alternative social network: Diaspora. A decentralised social media platform, that leaves user data where it belongs. With its user.
Also messaging-giant WhatsApp now has a fair competitor: telegram messenger enables users to have private conversations. It even provides the opportunity to encrypt and self-destruct one’s messages.
These fair platforms connect just as much as their unfair counterparts. They are the perfect examples for one reaction of the civic society and activists to media misrepresentation. There is a long tradition, of activists creating alternatives of media to their standards; it seems like it has caught on to the world-wide web (Rucht et. al, 2004).
Fuchs, C. (2014). Digital Labour and Karl Marx. Theorizing Digital Labour on Social Media. New York: Routledge.
Hilder, P. C.-G. (2007). Contentious Citizen – Civil society’s role in campaigning for social change. The Young Foundation.
Loader, B.D., Nixon, P.G., Rucht, D. and Van de Donk, W. (2004) Cyberprotest: New media, citizens and social movements, eds. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 29-56.