Tag Archives: facebook

6 things tsū can tell us about how social media work

5 Nov

Tsū is the latest social media platform claiming to be an alternative to Facebook. What’s new about Tsū is that it will apparently pay you to use the service. That’s right, not only is it free to use but you’ll actually make money by using it. Well, if it sounds too good to be true it almost certainly is. However, there are some reasons why tsū is an important example and why it says a lot about what mainstream social media are and how we can define alternatives.

1. If it’s free to use, then you’re the commodity…

A lot of people seem to think that the way Facebook makes money is by owning the content you create (the photos, etc.) and selling them to advertisers. This is not how it works. Facebook isn’t selling content to advertisers, it is selling future clicks on adverts. Based on what you have clicked on in the past, Facebook sells a profile of predicted future clicks. TV advertising works in exactly the same way, and the concept of the audience commodity has been used by theorists like Christian Fuchs to explain how Facebook makes its money. The main difference is that with TV advertising, companies had to do the work of creating demographic profiles of audiences and using these to determining programme and time-specific prices. With Facebook, you do all of this work; all Facebook needs to do is track your clicks and how long you dwell on content, package this data and sell you, as a potential clicker to advertisers. You do (almost) all of the work and Facebook gets (completely) all of the revenue.

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Cory Doctorow at How the Light Gets In

7 Jun

I spent some time last week in Wales, taking in the incredible landscapes and countryside but mainly making my first pilgrimage to the Mecca of books and literature that is Hay-on-Wye. As well as attending the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, I also attend a couple of talks at the How the Light Gets In festival of philosophy which runs parallel to the literature festival.

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Book Review: ‘Social Media. A Critical Introduction’ by Christian Fuchs

30 May

A version of this review is forthcoming in Anarchist Studies. More information on and sample chapters from the book are available at Christian Fuchs’ website.


In his Social Media. A Critical Introduction, Christian Fuchs sets out to provide an account of social media that draws on a Marxist understanding of economic exploitation and class. He does so by highlighting the political economy at work when we use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube and shows that in the case of these mainstream examples of social media they both mirror the power structures of capitalist society (according more influence to more economically powerful actors) (e.g. 190-2) and exploit the data that’s provided to them by users for free.

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Literature List on Social Media and Politics

13 Aug

I’ve decided to add a literature list to the blog, with some of the most interesting academic books and articles I’ve read over the last year or so. The list includes full bibliographical details and my own keywords for each entry, as well as, in a lot of cases, a quotation or two from the book or article that I found particularly interesting or representative.

I’ll be adding to the list over time, perhaps weekly, as my research goes on. If you think there’s anything missing, please do let me know about it and I’ll add it. Hopefully the list will be a resource to others doing similar research. At the very least it’s proof that I have actually read something and that I’m not just talking out of my arse, which I am as well, but not exclusively.


Cybernetics and Surveillance

5 Aug

In an article published last month in the journal Anarchist Studies, John Duda traced a part of the history of the relationship between anarchist ideas of self-organisation and those of the cybernetic tradition. It’s a very interesting article and sits well with a lot of the work I’ve been doing over the past year and a half. It’s also quite an important piece in that it goes some of the way to counter the claims that are often made about cybernetics as a science of authoritarian control.

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Facebook censorship (don’t worry, it doesn’t actually work)

26 Apr

At the Unlike Us #3 conference in March, Peter Olsthoorn, the Dutch journalist behind The Power of Facebook, asked who among the some 100 people in the audience likes Facebook. Only 3 or 4 people raised their hands, of which I was one. It wasn’t such a surprise given that Geert Lovink, one of the conference’s organisers and head of the Institute of Network Cultures, took part in Quit Facebook Day back in May 2010.

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Unlike Us #3 conference in Amsterdam, 22nd and 23rd of March

26 Mar

I was lucky enough to attend the Institute of Network Cultures’ Unlike Us #3 conference on Social Media: Design or Decline on Friday and Saturday of last week. I somehow only found out about the conference a couple of days before it took place and so I was very happy that I was able to make it along.

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אם אין אני לי, מי לי? וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי - ancom jewitch, sad poet

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'If you give Frodo Baggins a mobile phone, then the story of The Lord of the Rings becomes much shorter' - Paul Mason


'If you give Frodo Baggins a mobile phone, then the story of The Lord of the Rings becomes much shorter' - Paul Mason

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'If you give Frodo Baggins a mobile phone, then the story of The Lord of the Rings becomes much shorter' - Paul Mason

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'If you give Frodo Baggins a mobile phone, then the story of The Lord of the Rings becomes much shorter' - Paul Mason


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