A vast amount of our daily lives, both professional and personal, is now embedded within computational network logic. The boundaries between work and leisure become blurry, which oftentimes means the commodification and monetization of the latter. Social media monopolies, in particular, make clever use of the ‘network effect’ (where the number of users determines the value of a service) for marketing purposes, extracting profit from user activity.
Regulating this exchange on a legal level are the terms of service, data policies, etc. In this sense, terms of service documents can be conceived as the data labor iteration of an employment contract. The current mode of exploitation is now being labeled under the “social” tag, alienating the user further from the perception of his/her condition as a worker.
With business dictating all the rules, the conversation becomes rather unilateral and leaves no space for negotiation. It is important to question to which degree do we really have a choice. While it is true that we only accept such outrageous conditions which deeply violate basic human rights if we choose to sign into these platforms, the only other option is opting-out.
The Union must strive for user data control and transparency from a bottom- up perspective, where users push for data controllers to respect their rights by means of negotiation, rejecting the fake binary approach upheld by social media monopolies.