Apr 23 2014

Taking Back the People’s Platform: The Commercialization of Everything on the Internet

Here’s an interesting dilemma. Uprising’s Facebook page has 4,755 likes. That means that 4,755 of you have clicked the like button on our page because presumably you want to be able to read our posts and follow our links. But, every time we update the status on our page, we are told by Facebook that we have reached only a few dozen people – a tiny fraction of our community.

Facebook then also helpfully provides us with the opportunity to “Boost” our post, where for a fee starting at $40, we could have our post appear in the news feeds of a larger portion of our audience. But, as someone who has clicked “like” on our page, you have already given us permission to share our posts with you. If we were a wealthy corporation this wouldn’t be an issue and we would easily drop the dollars needed to reach all 4,755 of you.

This feature is a classic example of how major internet companies like Facebook are increasingly creating a stratified landscape on the internet, enabling moneyed interests to have a greater influence than, well, the rest of us 99 percenters. The gatekeepers that once existed in traditional media outlets have now migrated online and the promise of the internet as a utopian level playing field where citizen journalists and bloggers have equal reach as multimedia corporations, is increasingly elusive.

Writer, documentary film maker and activist, Astra Taylor has recently written a scathing critique of the commercialization of everything on the internet in a book entitled optimistically, “The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age.”

GUEST: Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. She has written for the London Review of Books, the Nation, and more. She helped launch the Strike Debt effort that emerged from the Occupy Wall Street movement and its Rolling Jubilee campaign. She made the films Examined Life, and Zizek!, a documentary about philosopher Slavoj Zizek.

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