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Wednesday, July 29 • 13:31 - 15:00
"Facebook and the Future of Capture"

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Author: Tero Karppi

‘We prioritize product development investments that we believe will create engaging interactions between our users, developers and marketers,’ Facebook states in their Facebook 2012 Annual Report. 

In this paper I discuss Facebook’s different product developments as technologies of capture. I am interested in how Facebook’s product developments are seen to engage both the users and their actions in the various processes of value production on the platform. Some of these product developments are already in use such as the Like-button used to express a relation to particular content, some of them are in beta-test mode such as the Buy-button used to make online purchases, and some of them like the targeted advertising tool Atlas or the Facebook drone are ideas under development and merely reported by media outlets. 

This paper is conceptual; in other words the empirical cases are discussed in the context of media theory. I begin the paper by framing what I mean with user engagement (Cf. O’Brien & Toms 2008) and how it differs from more common concept of user participation. The key difference is that while user participation can be understood through the concept of interactivity, in the context of user engagement interactivity is always supplemented with interpassivity (Žižek 1998) a state where the human subject is more or less passive and the object is active, it has agency. Furthermore, I propose that Facebook’s ‘engaging interactions’ should be understood in the etymological sense of the word ‘engagement’ as a ‘security for payment’. In specific, I discuss Facebook’s engagement based business model (Cf. Jenkins et al. 2003) within the framework of affective capitalism (Parikka 2013). Following this position, Like-button, Buy-button, Atlas and the drone are technologies of capture that transform our relationships, location information and/or behavioral patterns into data that can be sold and exploited. 

This paper discusses the ways in which Facebook aims at building future value through user engagement. User engagement becomes manifested in product developments which show how 1) user data is captured and exploited within the platform through social buttons 2) how facebook designs Atlas to gather data from outside the platform and targets offline purchases 3) how Facebook aims to capture the access to the internet with the drone and associated services such as the Facebook drone. 

Future Work: 
The future of Facebook is an under-researched area; this paper leads the way to explore its different possible material, ideological and cultural implications. 

Jenkins H., Ford S., and Green J. (2013) Spreadable Media. Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. New York & London: New York University Press. 
O'Brien H., and Toms E. (2008) ‘What is User Engagement? A Conceptual Framework for Defining User Engagement with Technology.’ Journal of American Society for Information Science and Technology 59, no. 6: 938-955. 
Parikka, J. (2013) ‘Crowd, Power and Post-democracy in the 21st Century, Jussi Parikka's interview on digital populism and recent European political phenomena, held on 17th May 2013 with the author of Obsolete Capitalism.’ 
Zizek, S. (1998) ‘The Interpassive Subject.’ Centre Georges Pompidou Traverses. 


Tero Jukka Karppi

University at Buffalo, United States of America

Wednesday July 29, 2015 13:31 - 15:00
(9th Floor) TRS 3-176 (Ted Rogers School of Management) 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C3

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