Facebook Rules: Structures of governance in digital capitalism and the control of generalized social capital


The article explores Facebook governance—its mechanisms, motivations and sources of power—while identifying wider patterns and logics that apply to other internet corporations. I suggest that (1) When digital capitalism turns mundane human interactions into biopolitical production, corporations gain interest in governing these interactions to maximize profit, and make decisions on core political issues; (2) Facebook can effectively govern and discipline users since it remolds various field-specific forms of capital into a single form, generalized social capital, and since it can threaten to confiscate generalized social capital accumulated by users; (3) Digital platforms do not simply epitomize a shift from discipline toward neo-liberal decentralized governance. Instead, they engage in intensive legislation, administration of justice and punishment; and develop eclectic governing and legitimation apparatuses consisting of algorithms, proletarian judicial labor and quasi-constitutional governing documents.

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Last updated on 08/06/2020