[Above artwork by Tsuruko Yamakazi]
“More than blurring boundaries between public life and private life, Facebook re-institutionalized “second shift” work—only instead of performing child care and housework, we are caught up in the “not work” of self-surveillance and personal brand-building that are the hallmarks of social media. It was the mirror to Losse’s cheap labor as personable customer service: the users’ uncompensated outpouring of personal information.
Facebook, we know now, was never meant to be the product; we, its users were. Without us, the “product” would be worthless. Zuckerberg understood this in 2003, when he created the proto-Facebook site Facemash, built from photos of Harvard University women—Zuckerberg’s classmates and peers—and presented to users—presumed to be Harvard men—to vote on their attractiveness. In a Harvard Crimson story published after Zuckerberg beat an expulsion rap for violating students’ privacy in launching Facemash, two campus groups are reported to have opposed the site publicly: Fuerza Latina and the Association of Harvard Black Women. Zuckerberg changed course slightly, creating a site where he would not need to scrape photos off a server. We’d give them to him.”