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

Abstract:

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