We All Work For Facebook

Excerpt from this article:

Typically, we don’t think of social media use as labor. Finding your way with Google Maps seems (particularly to those of us old enough to remember planning a trip with paper maps) like a luxurious free service. Keeping up with distant friends on Facebook feels like recreation. Answering questions on Yelp about whether the library you just visited has a wheelchair ramp is like a tiny public service.

But, of course, these companies aren’t providing anything for free. In Radical Markets (2017), Eric A. Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, and E. Glen Weyl, a senior researcher at Microsoft Research and visiting scholar at Princeton University, make the case that companies should pay for the information they collect from us. They point to Big Tech’s use of our data, not just to choose what ads we’ll see—or to sell to questionable political targeting operations—but also to create new technology. Facebook and Instagram (a Facebook property) use the images and videos we upload to power machine learning. That’s where new artificial intelligence products like face recognition and automated video editing come from. Translating a photo caption for your friends helps teach Google Translate how languages work. When you click the boxes on ReCAPTCHA, the ubiquitous anti-spam tool owned by Google, it helps computers learn to digitize text and—probably—improves self-driving car technology.

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