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22

Towards Marxian Internet Studies

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Fuchs, C. (2017). Towards Marxian Internet Studies. In Fuchs, C. and Mosco, V. (eds) Marx in the Age of Digital Capitalism. Haymarket, pp. 22-67

53

But are Facebook users productive workers? They are certainly not less important for Facebook’s capital accumulation than its paid employees because without users Facebook would immediately stop making profits and producing commodities. Facebook’s commodity is not its platform that can be used without charges. It rather sells advertising space in combination with access to users. An algorithm selects users and allows individually targeting ads based on keywords and search criteria that Facebook’s clients identify. Facebook’s commodity is a portion/space of a user’s screen/profile that is filled with ad clients’ commodity ideologies. The commodity is presented to users and sold to ad clients either when the ad is presented (pay-per-view) or when the ad is clicked (pay-per-click). The user gives attention to his/her profile, wall and other users’ profiles and walls. For specific time periods parts of his/her screen are filled with advertising ideologies that are with the help of algorithms targeted to his/her interests. The prosumer commodity is an ad space that is highly targeted to user activities and interests. The users’ constant online activity is necessary for running the targeting algorithms and for generating viewing possibilities and attention for ads. The ad space can therefore only exist based on user activities that are the labour that create the social media prosumer commodity.

something to remember - as much as I push back on the "Facebook users are doing labour" argument, there is something in there which has to be acknowledged

—p.53 by Christian Fuchs 2 years ago

But are Facebook users productive workers? They are certainly not less important for Facebook’s capital accumulation than its paid employees because without users Facebook would immediately stop making profits and producing commodities. Facebook’s commodity is not its platform that can be used without charges. It rather sells advertising space in combination with access to users. An algorithm selects users and allows individually targeting ads based on keywords and search criteria that Facebook’s clients identify. Facebook’s commodity is a portion/space of a user’s screen/profile that is filled with ad clients’ commodity ideologies. The commodity is presented to users and sold to ad clients either when the ad is presented (pay-per-view) or when the ad is clicked (pay-per-click). The user gives attention to his/her profile, wall and other users’ profiles and walls. For specific time periods parts of his/her screen are filled with advertising ideologies that are with the help of algorithms targeted to his/her interests. The prosumer commodity is an ad space that is highly targeted to user activities and interests. The users’ constant online activity is necessary for running the targeting algorithms and for generating viewing possibilities and attention for ads. The ad space can therefore only exist based on user activities that are the labour that create the social media prosumer commodity.

something to remember - as much as I push back on the "Facebook users are doing labour" argument, there is something in there which has to be acknowledged

—p.53 by Christian Fuchs 2 years ago
54

[...] The symbolic ideology of a commodity first needs to be produced by special ad and public relations employees and is in a second step communicated to potential buyers. Advertising therefore involves production and transportation labour. Advertising production does not create a physical commodity, but an ideological dimension of a commodity – a use-value promise that is attached to a commodity as meaning. Advertising transport workers do not transport a commodity in physical space from A to B, they rather organise a communication space that allows advertisers to communicate their use-value promises to potential customers. Facebook’s paid employees and users are therefore 21st century equivalents of what Marx considered as transport workers in classical industry. They are productive workers whose activities are nec- essary for “transporting” use-value promises from companies to potential customers. Marx associated transport with communication as comparable forms of work. On Facebook and other social media platforms, transportation labour is communication labour.

not entirely sure if the last sentence makes any sense or not but think about this more? in light of Marx talking about advertising being a cost of distribution in the market and not part of production

—p.54 by Christian Fuchs 2 years ago

[...] The symbolic ideology of a commodity first needs to be produced by special ad and public relations employees and is in a second step communicated to potential buyers. Advertising therefore involves production and transportation labour. Advertising production does not create a physical commodity, but an ideological dimension of a commodity – a use-value promise that is attached to a commodity as meaning. Advertising transport workers do not transport a commodity in physical space from A to B, they rather organise a communication space that allows advertisers to communicate their use-value promises to potential customers. Facebook’s paid employees and users are therefore 21st century equivalents of what Marx considered as transport workers in classical industry. They are productive workers whose activities are nec- essary for “transporting” use-value promises from companies to potential customers. Marx associated transport with communication as comparable forms of work. On Facebook and other social media platforms, transportation labour is communication labour.

not entirely sure if the last sentence makes any sense or not but think about this more? in light of Marx talking about advertising being a cost of distribution in the market and not part of production

—p.54 by Christian Fuchs 2 years ago
54

[...] Practically this means that a lot of companies want to advertise on Facebook and calculate social media advertising costs into their commodity prices. [...]

—p.54 by Christian Fuchs 2 years, 7 months ago

[...] Practically this means that a lot of companies want to advertise on Facebook and calculate social media advertising costs into their commodity prices. [...]

—p.54 by Christian Fuchs 2 years, 7 months ago