Professor Christian Fuchs, Director of the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) at the University of Westminster, discussed YouTube’s big data capitalism, outlining issues that derive from it and suggesting how these can be solved in a blog post for the Huffington Post.

Professor Fuchs noted that many companies, including Audi, BBC, Marks & Spencer and Transport for London as well as the UK government have now pulled their advertisements from YouTube after they were being presented together with videos featuring anti-Semitism, white supremacist ideology, and right-wing extremism.

He further explained that in terms of exchange-value YouTube is an advertising company, rather than a media content company – the largest one in the world because of the large amount of data it contains.

“One hour of new videos is uploaded to YouTube per second - that is 31,536,000 hours or 1,314,000 full days of video content per year. One person would need 3600 years to watch all the content uploaded in one year to YouTube.”

However, Professor Fuchs pointed out that the issue in this case is the fact that YouTube favours the open distribution of content without access restriction in order to turn user data into targeted advertising.

“Not humans, but algorithms decide on which YouTube and Google-content specific advertisements are featured. Data trade is a highly automated capitalist business, in which algorithms organise the commodity sales process. Digital capitalism entails big data commodity fetishism: Users’ sociality and activity disappear behind screens and algorithms.”

Professor Christian Fuchs adds that unfortunately the commodity and the algorithm are still unable to recognise meaning and therefore they also remain blind for ethics and morality, which is where one issue regarding big data capitalism stems from.

Clear guidelines and policies as well as more human involvement to check for policy violations is Professor Fuchs’s suggestion to tackle this issue. However, he concludes that it is a fundamental one and the only actual solution might be to re-invent Internet platforms by cutting down on advertising and selling commodities and focusing on “critical and educational content that engages humans in debate, co-creation and fascination.”

Read the whole blog post on the Huffington Post.

Read a longer version of Professor Fuchs’s article on Medium.

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