How autoritarism and corporatism have ruined our internet culture

# POST 4

[PART 1]


Corporatism and ultra-liberalism as a threat for the future of knowledge and humanity

The Fight

I believe in open culture. During my academic researches, I analyzed the emerging usages of Twitter by coalitions from 2010-2011 when, in the same realm that the Arab spring, citizen journalists appropriated information production skills to counter the silence of the media.

I defended my thesis with the politics of accreditation with the aim of giving more visibility and access to the precarious workers in media, technology and creative industry (2012: 189). I am convinced that Internet and in some ways well intended machines can help us to build a better future.

Nevertheless, I was forced to adopt a cautious approach during the research process as I observed that we might have reached, with the development of progress and wealth, a state of permanent oppression with still high concentrative markets, with the permanence of low access to areas of power colonized by centralized hubs of pre-existing power and with liberal and conservative agressive politics producing deep inequalities with their corporate logics infused via tech tools and software monopolies.

Before to be an ideologized concept used by marketers working for for-profits American multinationals, sharing economy and open knowledge meant something else than business only practices. I would define it as sharing knowledges, expertises, ideas, concepts and discoveries selflessly, with desinterestment following the post-colonial project (Freire) to fix what is wrong by reflecting all together and potentially globally.

This framing comes from the principles of pastoral educators in tech from the 2000’s at the time I managed my way to IRC moderation and personal observations.

I was born and immersed in the digital culture since at least high school (I had no computer home before that). I had bad experiences with the internet. I had huge ones, nevermind… I kept believing that people working cooperatively can make a social change. 

(Since 2006), I have observed in the media the way partisan polls, instrumentalized haters or trolls and networks of collusion had ruined our world, our peaceful lives and probably the future of collective knowledge, news and humanity as we might like it.

For denouncing these logics embodied with feminism and racism, I have been repeatedly targeted by moral and authoritarian institutions as mainstream media and universities with surveillance and assaults on the internet and IRL starting with my researches and then interfering with my professional and social life.

About Inequity in Ressources access

Even if women’s movement advocated for the role of new media as a way to give access to education and empowerment (and I agree) (Di Chiro, 2004), equal access (Habermas, 1978, 1987) , equal opportunity (Fraser, 1992) and visibility (Thompson, 1995) are necessary to maintain the situation of communication (Debaveye, 2012b, 2015). Unfortunately, we are totally lacking of distributed ressources in our post-capitalist «societies».

We always have been aware that these issues were not easy to solve. But what We ignored or maybe underestimated 5 years back was the obsessive behavior of the colluted networks into reaching material ends that would lead to the instrumentalization of technologies and moral disengagement.

We are supposed to be laic democracies but we’re contained with moral judgement and stigmatisation of the powerless communities.


(Whilst being a precarious worker at academia), I was the captive witness of how hidden things started to crack about the infamous reality of people’s struggles, arts and works being instrumentalized by ultra- capitalism. 

My researches were a disenchanting work where I recorded how a group of students’ activists opposing global order and contesting restricting access to education sousveilled the power to finally eventually got their ideals of social justice and critical awareness appropriated by news media, encrypting firms and tech companies, collaborating with financiary oppressive power. How media manipulated networks of resistance for caution and visibility.

Later, by 2013, I noticed how the privacy movement deprived people from equal rights as all people were not having the ressources for protecting themselves from surveillance and control at a time when information was the new oil.

In academia, it was a battle to handle the idea that our works could be used by global platforms for market, with the compliance of universitary corporatism. I was concerned also by the intrumentalization of surveillance and privacy notions for financial benefits.

The Securitists were questioned for their lack of accountability. After Snowden’s revelations, we heard that Tor for example could be a tool used for surveillance in the hands of universitarians.

Then the proper ones who advocated for people’s online safety and privacy were exposing them to targeted surveillance (I am explaining about that notion in my last paper, 2015). After we have asked for the origins of funding sources, it came to news that TOR was being funded by the American Defense Department.

Then Snowden launched Signal, a chat app with double encryption tool.

This said, we have no evidence than encryption tools can actually protect users from piracy.

They failed. They failed the elections. They lost people’s voices and caution.

Because their storytelling was a lie.

Snowden’s Party was feeding the own perfect dreams of the Western control. No one asked what the database would become into the hands of unethical scientists or politics nor would encrypting tools, researches and works would become if used for profits. But the day we did, they lost credibility.

Yes, we surely, certainly, overestimated the ability of the internet to grow collective intelligence and underestimated what a bunch of crap people would do with it for fame and money once they get the potential… And so, as humanitarians we trusted humanity.

It was all project and no business and it became all business and no project.

They actually won the app market with lucrative benefits. Tech companies, political leaders and news media forgot their public mandate and silented under the lobbying of financial players (banks, real estate). They eventually showed clear despise for the social contract (socialism, what or), became trustful of themselves and arrogant. They forgot that in western democracies you cannot reduce people to silence…

Our plans were to maintain an ideal of equity by calling for public, institutional and corporate transparency, by fighting the multiple frauds from colluded networks and the use of brutal force and coercion on civilians that generates social exclusion.

With the information passing, citizen movements came more empowered than ever to critically analyzing news media and whistle blowing facts and news, but it was undermined by the configuration of the media in high concentric markets whose stake holders wanted to keep the privilege of governance.

They reacted with military forces.

They stabbed us to death.

The run

Colonialism & Voices

Neo-rationalism allows colonial revisionism to erase each day the minority’s voices that historically shouted loud and clear at their own perils, the stories of whose who have been racially or sexually offended, physically assaulted, jailed and tortured for defending democracy and social justice.

With the violence of the algorithms and norms, the drifts of quantitativism and the sanctification of online violence, trolling and cyber-harassment, these web mercenaries quietly paved the way for fascist politics, while social forces conveying sexism and racism and the miserable cohort of individualism were, putting hands in : indifference, lack of support and empathy.

As it happened with the website opendemocracy, IT workers derealize and neglect the social dimension of online production. They for instance colonized my website and my stories with their softwares and decontextualized trying to privatize my personal data without giving credit. They also tracked my personal Twitter account without asking consent. They eventually attack me and mock me via social media.

There’s nothing absurd in my story.

They replace people with numbers and goals with SEO ranks, statistics, almost anecdotical. They erase contexts of production falsifying data. They process data and convert human in bits and then they assert with the authority of numbers. They instrumentalize stats, data and anthropology to manipulate communities. It is not only big data that is under scrutiny but the whole knowledge apparatus.

As a french female researcher disagreeing with established power, I was not that visible, using the only tools that the average citizen can find at her immediate disposal, what makes her much powerless than whose she opposes, more rich, more obscure, more manipulative and more connected and organized among preestablished networks of collusion. 

The privatization of people’s lives and stories is scary for the future of our humanity and as well for the free internet. My experience and the one of my peers are, in a way, a « classic case » of the fact that our scientific, political and educational institutions are not feeling concerned at all with justice, equity or education. Most media are rather used as way of conveying power. Divided and disempowered are the opponents.

So here I was, as starving and afraid as a lonely wolf. It was tempting to accept offers. And I almost did.

Because of corporatism and with the corruption of the elites, the ideal of sharing culture based on the principle that anyone can get access to ressources have been left go to seed. Everyone running away…

We have to keep on track. The technical access is still an issue but it has proven its advancements each year, with 69% of 3G covering and the increasing of cellphone owners as it clearly is an emerging market for business (that’s why).

The main concern now is about how to get the symbolical access to ressources due to the stables elements of power that the tyranny of apps and softwares maintain above all.

Social researchers and intellectuals are supposed  to voice claims about this unsustainable economy but of course they mostly don’t. It is easier to play the games. Political leaders and intellectuals are not found of crowds either. They perpetuate the reproduction of power.

The lack of solidarity and political commitment among global citizens might be also the cause of the lack of structure among opponents to corporatism. Now, global order maintains the injonction of open sharing cynically intrumentalizing political ethos and minorities’ struggles for profits. And the hardest part to chew is that these established structures have now gained legitimacy through « science » and politics with liberal leaders following hidden agenda : moral cruelty used to reach profit.

Everyday, Networks of power commit abuses in the name of the public good and of democracy. They bring common citizens into the hands of an incessant productivism led by web mercenaries that endorse without a say users’ online identity, collecting private data (names, addresses, ID, security number, credit card number) and stamping it with their brand names. They force people into zones of containments and submission.

What these mercenaries have in common is their fake sense of control. They agree on the belief that, in their immense talent, they can offer solutions to securize the net and control the living (Earth, Women’s bodies, kids!). They use our claim for access and equity within rhetorics of representation as privacy, anti-islamophoby and migrants for legitimizing their exactions. Let’s say it : intellectual dishonesty, data frauds and authority of science (or what they call so).

While at a global stage, EU governements sell private data from European citizens to foreign investors, infringing the duty of protecting citizens, big corps sell sophisticated technology of encryption to warriors (isn’t war the new trendy business?), women and kids get raped somewhere without the issue raising concerns, while mainstream media over expose citizens to the systematic monitoring and tracking of their acts by the militia of trolls used for social control.

It’s a sad sad world they designed where everyone might fit into the most dominative culture and adopt its codes (western culture).

The exit

Clearly there isn’t.

But remind that The internet cannot be controlled and is site for disruption. The internet is shizophrenic (Deleuze et Guattari, 1980), made of many accidental and incomplete data (Debaveye, 2012a, 2012b) and users cannot control the information about themselves online (Debaveye, 2012a; 2015). Then, online identities are fluid. There are chimeras.

The global biopolitics that control information, data, ressources and means by centralizing everything are slow and old. They colluded with fast racers. But they’re focused on materiality. Chimeras are powerful. and I am a delusive player.



Debaveye, Julie (2015), « L’émergence d’une écologie locale des nouvelles médiatée par @CLACMontreal, les audiences de Twitter et les médias d’information en contexte de (sur)veillance. », in Communication, 33/1, Université Laval, Québec, février 2015 (soumission : décembre 2013). @Debaveye, 2015.

Debaveye, Julie (2012b), @CLACMontréal, émergence et institutionnalisation d’une expertise militante dans les micro-médias, thèse de doctorat en Sciences de l’information et de la communication, sous la direction de Bernard Lamizet et François Demers, Université Lyon 2 et Université Laval, UMR Triangle et DIC Laval, 422 p. @Debaveye, 2012.

Debaveye, Julie (2012a), « Relinking expertise : De l’expérience privée à l’expérience médiatique du partage de vidéo en ligne. », Revue Canadienne d’Etudes Médiatiques, affiliée à la faculté des communications et des études médiatiques de l’Université de Western Ontario, numéro thématique automne 2012 « Experts et amateurs en communication et culture », pp. 115-140 (soumission : août 2011). @Debaveye, 2012.

Deleuze, Gilles et Félix  Guattari (1980), Mille Plateaux, Capitalisme et Schizophrénie 2, Les éditions de Minuit.

Di Chiro, Giovanna (2004), « Local Actions, Global Visions », in Eglash, Appropriating Technology, Vernacular Science and Social Power, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Fraser, Nancy (1992), in Calhoun, Habermas and the public sphere. Cambridge Mass. : MIT press, 510 p.

Habermas, Jürgen, (1978), L’Espace public : archéologie de la publicité comme dimension constitutive de la société bourgeoise. Coll. Critique de la politique. Paris : Payot, 324 p et 1987. Théorie de l’agir communicationnel. Coll. L’Espace du politique. Paris : Fayard, 480 p.

Thompson, John (1995), The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media. Cambridge: Polity; Stanford : Stanford University Press, 324 p.

This article is inspired from a blog post I published in my blog of research in March 2015.


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