Platform enclosure of human behavior and its measurement: Using behavioral trace data against platform episteme

Angela Xiao Wu, Harsh Taneja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Digital trace data from giant platforms are gaining ground in the study of human behavior. This trend accompanies contestations regarding representativeness, privacy, access, and commercial origin. Complementing existing discussions and focusing on knowledge production, we draw attention to the different measurement regimes within passively captured behavioral logs from industries. Taking an institutional perspective on measurement as a management technology, we compare platforms with third-party audience measurement firms. Whereas the latter measure to provide “currency” for a multi-sided advertising market, the former measure internally for their own administrative purposes (i.e. prescribing behavior through design). We demonstrate the platform giants’ two-fold enclosure of first the user ecology and subsequently the previously open market for user attention. With platform trace data serving as a lifeline for scholarly research, platform episteme extends itself to enclose knowledge production. We conclude by suggesting ways in which academic quantitative social sciences may resist these platform enclosures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNew Media and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Audience measurement
  • Internet studies
  • computational social science
  • digital trace data
  • knowledge production
  • platform episteme
  • quantitative methodology
  • user analytics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Platform enclosure of human behavior and its measurement: Using behavioral trace data against platform episteme'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this