In the article, Professor Fuchs puts forth that Google and Facebook have turned users’ data into the great commodities of the 21st century. The two companies have been granted the right to handle personal data without scruples, not only for commercial but also political purposes.
Somewhere between tech-pessimism and tech-optimism, there is a middle ground, and this is where Fuchs places himself. From the perspective of critical theory, Fuchs argues that the promise of social networks has fallen into the hands of actors in a larger network, namely that of corporate interests. The only way out is by creating alternative public networks and cooperative digital platforms. At the moment, a duopoly, formed by Facebook and Google, controls two thirds of digital advertising.
“The underlying problem is that data has been turned into the most precious commodity,” says Fuchs, adding that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has just come into force in the EU is a step in the right direction. “But this is a global problem that requires a global solution. If not, the corporations will always find a way to circumvent the law.”
Professor Fuchs speaks argues that the “dangerous triple alliance” of digital capitalism, neoliberal ideology and the far-right politics is perceivable in the case of Cambridge Analytica, the data mining company that was involved with Trump and Brexit campaigns. "This is an unprecedented attempt to manipulate the democratic process," warns Fuchs.
Facebook has recognised that up to 200 applications could have been involved in the abuse of data through Cambridge Analytica. The data of almost 90 million users can have been exploited and sold.
Read the full interview in El Mundo (in Spanish).