Social networks, especially Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, are so complex that Mark Zuckerberg famously and worryingly confessed in his hearings to US lawmakers in April 2018 that he and his staff have only now started to understand how “bad actors” may have “misused” Facebook’s system. There are many ways to look at Facebook and to discuss its ramifications for contemporary culture. The most common approach is a socioeconomic one that addresses the underlying business model and the fact that the company monetizes its users’ data and attention. Here one normally would tackle issues such as algorithmic economy, consumer profiling, and behavioral targeting. Another typical sort of social media critique would aim at the sociopsychological effect of self-presentation and identity construction in the context of radical transparency and immediate feedback. The approach I offer here and further elaborate in my book is...

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