Here as a teaser is the abstract of my forthcoming dissertation:
In the beginning of its 10th year of existence Facebook has engaged and connected 1.2 billion monthly active users. This article-based dissertation Disconnect.Me – User Engagement and Facebook approaches this engagement from the opposite direction: disconnection. The research articles focus on social media specific phenomena including leaving Facebook, tactical media works such as Web 2.0 SuicideMachine, memorializing dead Facebook users and Facebook trolling. The media theoretical framework for this study is built around affect theory, software studies, biopolitics as well as different critical studies of new media. The argument is that disconnection is a necessary condition of social media connectivity and exploring social media through disconnection – as an empirical phenomenon, future potential and theoretical notion – helps us to understand how users are engaged with social media, its uses and subsequent business models. The results of the study indicate that engagement is a relation that precedes user participation, a notion often used to conceptualize social media. Furthermore, this engagement turns the focus from users’ actions towards the platform and how the platform actively controls users and their behavior. Facebook aims to engage new users and maintain the old ones by renewing its platform and user interface. User engagement with the platform is thus social but also technical and affective. When engaged, the user is positioned to algorithmic connectivity where machinc processes mine user data. This data is sold but also used to affect and engage other users. In the heart of this study is the notion that our networked engagements matter and disconnection can bring us to the current limits of network culture.
Keywords: Facebook, user, social media, user interface, culture, digital economy, affect, control, media theory