[...] if our online interactions are free labour, then these companies must be a significant boon to capitalism overall--a whole new landscape of exploited labour has been opened up. On the other hand, if this is not free labour, then these firms are parasitical on other value-producing industries and global capitalism is in a more dire state. A quick glance at the stagnating global economy suggests that the latter is more likely.
Rather than exploiting free labour, the position taken here is that advertising platforms appropriate data as a raw material. [...]
on whether user activity counts as labour (whose definition is: activity that generates a surplus within a market and production process oriented toward exchange)
so these ad platforms are making money based on an inefficiency in the market and don't actually create any value except insofar as they subsidize the parts of the corporations that do (e.g., google maps?)