This book explores commodification processes of personal data and provides a critical framing of the ongoing debate of privacy in the Internet age, using the example of social media and referring to interviews with users. It advocates and expands upon two main theses: First, people’s privacy is structurally invaded in contemporary informational capitalism. Second, the best response to this problem is not accomplished by invoking the privacy framework as it stands, because it is itself part of the problematic nexus that it struggles against. Informational capitalism poses weighty problems for making the Internet a truly social medium, and aspiring to sustainable privacy simultaneously means to struggle against alienation and exploitation. In the last instance, this means opposing the capitalist form of association – online and offline.
"Private sphere, private property, private data, private investors, private concerns, private initiative, private schools and education - capitalism is obsessed with the private and with possessive individualism. Sebastian Sevignani shows in Privacy and Capitalism in the Age of Social Media how digital capitalism has transformed aspects of privacy in the context of social media. This book is an outstanding rigorous study of social media privacy and an essential guide and must-read for anyone who wants to understand why the privacy critique of social media is too one-dimensional and needs to be complemented with a critique of the exploitation of digital labour, a critique of the commodification of data, and a critique of the alienation caused by targeted advertising and commerce. Sevignani eloquently shows why an alternative social media landscape that transcends capitalism is urgently needed."
- Professor Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster, author of Culture and Economy in the Age of Social Media and Digital Labour and Karl Marx
"In the age of informational capitalism, when the borders between the public and the private, the commercial and the personal as well as surveillance and protection are notoriously blurred and blundered, this thoughtful, illuminative and provocative book is of vital importance for all who care about the economic interests, the normative issues and the political options at stake."
- Professor Hartmut Rosa, Institute of Sociology, University of Jena, Germany
1. Introduction 2. The Empirical Study: Critical Social Research on Social Media 3. Privacy in Informational Capitalism 4. Privacy Theories 5. Privacy and Ideology 6. Alternatives. Appendix.