EdgeRank – becoming (in)visible on Facebook

My article ” Want to be on the top? Algorithmic power and the threat of invisibility on Facebook” has just been published online by New Media & Society.

Abstract:

This article explores the new modalities of visibility engendered by new media, with a focus on the social networking site Facebook. Influenced by Foucault’s writings on Panopticism – that is, the architectural structuring of visibility – this article argues for understanding the construction of visibility on Facebook through an architectural framework that pays particular attention to underlying software processes and algorithmic power. Through an analysis of EdgeRank, the algorithm structuring the flow of information and communication on Facebook’s ‘News Feed’, I argue that the regime of visibility constructed imposes a perceived ‘threat of invisibility’ on the part of the participatory subject. As a result, I reverse Foucault’s notion of surveillance as a form of permanent visibility, arguing that participatory subjectivity is not constituted through the imposed threat of an all-seeing vision machine, but by the constant possibility of disappearing and becoming obsolete.

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