Facebook Breaks The Fourth Wall
People know Facebook is dodgy - it is not an especially well trusted brand, it rarely gets the benefit of the doubt. But people imagined they knew fairly well the ways in which it was dodgy: it spies on you to sell ads, and it is constantly trying to get those ads in front of you. This is tangible dodginess, dodginess you can counter or at least feel superior to - look at this dumb shit Facebook thinks I’m into! Knowing about it gives you the same feeling knowing about supermarket tricks and tips - bread smells near the deli and so on - does: you might not like this trickery, but you can get wise to it.
A great post from Tom about his own surprise, as a market researcher, that this was the scandal that really got traction from lay-users re: Facebook and privacy.
This particular point underscores something I’ve noticed about teaching something like “advertising literacy,” as absorbed from c. 90s critical media literacy traditions, to college students — their cynicism about how eyeballs are sold to advertisers is so pervasive that they seem genuinely surprised when I talk more about how sophisticated (and omnipresent) data collection really is. Everyone knows how they feel about product placement, commercials, and (to a lesser degree) targeted advertising. But bring up data aggregation and the profiling of people from disparate streams of information and faces are blank and mildly horrified. The most I really got in a discussion about privacy with undergrads last semester was a strong but inchoate anger about it; so when it came time to formulate an argument or opinion they had a lot more work to do just to figure out not only where they stood, but what “standing” even was.
This is clearly the new frontier for media literacy education; I suppose my question is how this direction squares with or complements or even vaguely opposes previous iterations of media deconstruction.