Instagram and Exploitation

exploitation A small bit of good news: There has apparently been an “explosion of Instagram bashing” since Monday’s announcement by that Facebook subsidiary that it was changing its membership terms. The change, now retracted (no doubt temporarily), read as follows:

“You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your user name, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata) and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

In Marxian (and also human) terms, this is quite interesting and important, as it would represent the expansion of exploitation — the seizure of the proceeds of unpaid labor-time — into the realm of social media usage. When and if Facebook accomplishes this trick — and history strongly suggests it will, eventually, if it hasn’t already, people who use its “services” will be doing unpaid work for it as users.

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Marla SingerMichael DawsonRasmus XeraMarla Singer Recent comment authors

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Marla Singer
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Marla Singer

Obviously, there is some sort of minimal joy in deliberately trying to cull as many harmful activities as possible from one’s life (TV, radio, newspapers, facebook [of course]). It is good to get into the habit of “can I get by without this?”/”do I really need this and why”. So that’s pretty obvious in the abstract. The problem is that so many harmful and unnecessary behaviors are so deeply integrated with our daily lives, that they, as frivolous as they may be “objectively” are surely essential socially. Some obvious examples of course would include “proper” dress, having a car, receiving… Read more »

Rasmus Xera
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One might argue that by getting people to reveal their personal information, interests, and hobbies, so that it can all be sold to information brokers and advertisers, Facebook and other social networking sites have for years already met the definition of exploitation. That is, unless we are being “paid” in our supposedly improved ability to connect socially. Which would probably be Facebook’s argument to your original point, now that I think about it. @Marla Singer – Along the same lines, for many of us social media has already reached that point. I’m not too ashamed to admit my (offline) social… Read more »

Rasmus Xera
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No, you’re right, there’s certainly a difference. The good thing is that it’s easier to explain to people that their content is being used, than it is to explain to them the intricacies of the world of information and advertising. So when something like this happens, there’s often an immediate blowback and usually the terms get reverted. I’m reminded of Facebook’s old ToS which stated they could (literally) do whatever they wanted with not just everything users posted on their accounts, but anything you allowed users to share through social buttons. And honestly, reading it now I can’t tell if… Read more »

Marla Singer
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Marla Singer

Here is another example of exploitation that I was just reminded (i.e. subjected to) of: We all know that the automated phone lines, self-check ins etc. are among the ways to save on labor costs and shift some of the labor onto the customers. However, the new automated “fraud prevention systems” on bank cards take this way beyond that. They have become so tight and intrusive, that they actually INTERFERE with using your own goddamned card legitimately. This happens often enough to throw me into a fit of rage on this new year’s day. the typical scenario I experience is:… Read more »