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26 May 2021, 20:00 CEST

The Hmm ON Algorithmic Colonialism

While 80% of Facebook users are not from the United States, Facebook’s policies for content moderation and ‘ethical’ framework are based on North American standards. In 2016, the company started a campaign (remember internet.org?) to rewire the world and ‘connect the unconnected’. That project kind of failed, but most of the digital infrastructures around the world are still controlled and governed by Western companies, such as Facebook.

When Big Tech companies control digital and algorithmic experiences, they get the power to control the political, economic and cultural domains of life. This is one of the many forms of algorithmic colonialism.

Technological innovations are often asserted as universally positive, and existing beyond geopolitical borders, but it is important that we understand who has the power in relation to these technologies; who creates the rules, regulations, and whose interests are promoted through these technologies. The extraction of data, as one of the financial benefits of digital colonialism, is paralleled and interwoven with more traditional colonialist systems that extract resources like labour and raw materials. Classic colonialism was driven by political and governmental agencies with the aim of dominating the world. Digital or algorithmic colonialism is driven by private corporations who believe that their products can solve the ‘problems’ in the Global South, while simultaneously expanding their domination of digital ecosystems.

During this The Hmm ON event we try to better understand the nuances of how digital or algorithmic colonialism operates today, and we’ve invited three speakers to answer the following questions through their research and artistic work. What is the difference between Facebook and other Big Tech companies extracting our data in Europe versus them extracting data from people living in the Global South? How is this situation different when you’re in a less economically powerful position?

Join us at 8pm CEST. You’ll receive the streaming link after registering for the event.

The Hmm ON …

We’re using face filters to make ourselves prettier, track our daily steps on our iPhones, and rely on Google Maps to find our destination. But what exactly is the impact of these technologies? With The Hmm ON …, we reflect on these playful, serious, and sometimes disturbing developments in internet culture.

The series is kindly supported by the Creative Industries Fund and the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts.

Speakers