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Medien – Wissen – Bildung: Kulturen und Ethiken des Teilens

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Wolfgang Sützl
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Felix Stalder
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Ronald Maier
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et al.

I.2. Communities and Institutions

Privacy on Social Networking Sites within a Culture of Exchange

Sebastian Sevignani

Résumé

The paper describes the relationship between the concept of privacy and a culture of exchange. First, I will ground a notion of a culture of exchange on a critical political economy analysis. Second, I will follow this line of argumentation by having a look at the realm of ideas within a culture of exchange. It is shown that current notions of privacy fall within the framework of possessive individualistic thinking. Third, I will show for social networking sites (SNS) that privacy and its supposed opponent surveillance are both related to private property and belong genuinely to a culture of exchange. In the concluding section, I will briefly discuss normative problems of a culture of exchange in general, its influence on SNS, and the issue of privacy.

Texte intégral

The research presented in this proposal was conducted in the project “Social Networking Sites in the Surveillance Society” (http://www.sns3.uti.at), funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): project number P 22445-G17. Project co-ordination: Prof. Christian Fuchs.

1. Grounding culture of exchange in a political economy analysis

1One can see exchange as a fact of human interaction that is given at any time. “Do ut des” – I give you something in order to get something back. This principle seems at the first look reasonable and fair. Marx however does not agree with that; he rather examines why “do et des” of commodities is as plausible to us by having a closer look at the historical conditions of that phenomenon. Adorno argues that exchange is the principle which determines the development of society (see Adorno, 2000, pp. 31–32, 43 & 112) or even human fatality (see Adorno, 1972, p. 209). Therefore, the consequences of three Marxian theoretical operations should be considered for analysing exchange: First, most basically, the differentiation between a societal sphere of production and circulation; second, his line of argumentation according to the “commodity fetish”; third, the analysis of the inversion of appropriation in capitalism.

2Marx differentiates between two societal spheres, which are necessarily interwoven (see Marx, 1992, p. 190). One sphere is about producing things and the labour that has to be invested to achieve this; the other sphere is about circulating the produced things and services among people. In this paper, I will suggest understanding the intersection between the two as the field of culture. It is obvious that the phenomenon of exchange belongs to the latter sphere and already presupposes a production of something that can be exchanged. Marx observes that “only the products of mutually independent acts of labour, performed in isolation” (Marx, 1976, p. 57), are meaningful to be exchanged. Within the sphere of circulation, people are free to confront each other as equal owners of property, to a certain extent, and recognize each other as contractual partners. Indeed, Marx argues that in the realm of exchange, “a very Eden of the innate rights of men” (Marx, 1976, p. 280) exists in which freedom and equality are fully realized. However, in capitalism this is not the whole story.

3What should be considered is something that does not appear within the sphere of exchange. One can speak about a “hidden” sociality of exchange between private and isolated partners. Production that precedes exchange appears as strictly non-social because among the producers, there is no direct agreement or planning on what and how much to produce that is oriented to any societal standard. But what then makes commodities exchangeable or comparable? To answer this question it is helpful to use an example: Company A produces umbrellas, and it takes forty-five minutes to produce a piece while company B has introduced new machines and can produce the same piece in fifteen minutes. If both companies exchanged their products, then both would recognize that the value of umbrellas consists of thirty minutes labour time. However, the companies do not know the value of their umbrellas before the exchange happens because they do not cooperate. Value is not existent before exchange takes place; it can never be predicted. The labour spent privately in a company has only value in relation to labour spent within a whole society. There is no institution that organizes the entire labour that is spent by all companies. Companies A and B recognise the value of their products (thirty minutes average necessary labour time) only when they exchange their umbrellas. They receive the value in exchange for the umbrella and for them, concerned with “how much of some other product they get for their own” (Marx, 1976, p. 167); it is obvious that their umbrella has this value as property. The interaction of the sphere of production and the sphere of circulation in the process of value creating – labour creates value, but the value is only recognisable in exchange and determines then further production – is meant when Marx speaks of the commodity fetishism:

“The mysterious character of the commodity-form consists therefore simply in the fact that the commodity reflects the societal characteristics of men's own labour as objective characteristics of the products of labour themselves, as the socio-natural properties of these things. Hence it also reflects the social relation of the producers to the sum total of labour as a social relation between objects, a relation which exists apart from and outside the producers” (Marx, 1976, pp. 164–165).

4On behalf of the commodity fetish argument, Marx infers from the specific private and isolated organization of production to marketers’ thinking and their self-images. The societal dimension of value creating is “hidden” but asserts itself behind people’s backs because exchange value is the goal of the production. Marketers are not aware of this sociality because it is mediated by things and value becomes a property of these things due to this process. In exchange based societies people cannot determine their own association consciously and cannot judge the quality of societal production self-determined.

5Marx also provides us with a characterisation of that “hidden” dimension. He explains, that if “a complete separation between the workers and the ownership of the conditions for the realization of their labour” (Marx, 1976, p. 874) is established, only then commodity exchange is possible. Thereby, the workers are set free in a dual sense of freedom, namely free of the ownership of the condition for the realisation of their labour, but also free of personal dependences. So they are, on the one hand, free to engage in contracts, but on the other hand, forced to engage in contracts and to sell their work force on markets to make their ends meet. After establishing these conditions, company A is able to invest money in the umbrella production and can buy work force in order to receive more money than invested. This is possible because the work force is a certain commodity, which is now available on markets. It can produce more value than it costs and the surplus value then can be appropriated by the buyers of workforce legitimately. Such appropriation is legitimate because the principle of equivalence, “do ut des”, is not affected. In fact, the worker receives the value of its work force exactly. So the specific quality of society, which is expressed within the right to have others work for you, leads to a phenomenon that Marx describes as the inversion of the law of appropriation and refers to it as the capitalist form of exploitation ultimately (see Marx, 1976, pp. 729–730).

6Today, “the wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an ‘immense collection of commodities’” (Marx, 1976, p. 125). The process of commercialization of ever more spheres of life and human activities, such as education, media, ecology, human biology, and personality is ongoing today and this means that ever more knowledge, content, natural resources, (genetic) codes, and personal data appear as exchangeable commodities. So the specific, “hidden”, sociality of a culture of exchange becomes even more important and total. In respect of such universalizing processes, Adorno can argue that “the totality within which we live, and which we can feel in each of our social actions, is conditioned not by a direct ‘togetherness’ encompassing us all, but by the fact that we are essentially divided from each other through the abstract relationship of exchange” (Adorno, 2000, p. 43). From my point of view, “divided from each other” through exchange then means a twofold. In capitalism, on the one hand, we are not able to associate consciously and self-determined. On the other hand, society is divided into class structurally because one class can appropriate the societal produced surplus.

2. Privacy and private property

7If we have a closer look at the concepts of private property and privacy, then we will recognize similarities between these concepts. The close relation between privacy and property has often been noted within the literature (see Lyon, 1994, p. 186; Habermas, 1991, p. 74; Goldring, 1984, pp. 308–309; Lessig, 2002, p. 250, Hettinger, 1989, p. 45; Geuss, 2001, p. 103; Sofsky, 2007, pp. 95–96; Solove, 2008, pp. 26–28), but has rarely been outlined (exception see Fuchs, 2011b).

2.1 Private property

8If one speaks of exchanging something, it is presupposed that there are (natural or artificial) people who have the control to provide something to others. As well, it is presupposed that others are excluded from control over something, otherwise they can simply take it without providing something in turn and no exchange would take place. In other words, exchange presupposes the institution of the right to exclude others from the use and benefit of something, which is the individual right to property (see Munzer, 2005, p. 858). Private property does not coincide with property at all; we can distinguish different forms of property. Macpherson, for instance, speaks about three possible forms: private property, state property, and common property. He points out that private property and state property are of similar structure (see Macpherson, 1978, p. 5). Both are about excluding others, whereas common property is about “the guarantee to each individual that he will not be excluded from the use or benefit of something” (Macpherson, 1978, p. 5). A culture of exchange, as it is based on private property, is only possible where a relation of exclusion among people exists. Such exclusion is the very opposite of the common (see Benkler, 2006, p. 60).

9The commodity fetish, which has its reason in the “hidden” sociality of exchange, affects not only day-to-day thinking of marketers, but is also reflected in economical, ethical, and philosophical theory. Macpherson has detected consequences of exchange for philosophical thinking within his interpretative analysis of the most important liberal thinkers, from Hobbes to Locke (see Macpherson, 1962, pp. 4–8): With the rise of capitalism and a culture of exchange, the “relation of ownership, having become for more and more men the critically important relation determining their actual freedom and prospect of realizing their full potentialities, was read back into the nature of the individual” (Macpherson 1962, p. 3). Macpherson speaks in this context of “possessive individualism” as the central ideology of modern society. Within possessive individualism, an individualistic notion of man merges into justifications of private property. Possessive individualistic thinking consists of a complex of postulates derived from a negative notion of freedom from man’s dependency on other men. This notion of freedom fits perfect with people’s circulation sphere based on self-understanding and the “hidden” sociality of exchange. It appears that the individual is already complete before it enters social relations. Macpherson, and an echo of Marx’s arguments according to the commodity fetish are salient in this, argues:

“since the freedom, and therefore the humanity, of the individual depend on his freedom to enter into self-interested relations with other individuals, and since his ability to enter into such relations depends on his having exclusive control of (rights in) his own person and capacities, and since' proprietorship is the generalized form of such exclusive control, the individual is essentially the proprietor of his own person and capacities” (Macpherson, 1962, p. 263).

10The individual as “proprietor of his own person and capacities” is then free to sell their own labour capacity to others on markets, which enables Marx’s argument of the inversion of appropriation. “Possessive individualism” is a specific way of thinking and of self-conception that makes individuals’ behaviour consistent with the structural requirements of the culture of exchange within a market-based capitalist society. The ideology of the individuals “as proprietors of themselves” (Macpherson, 1962, p. 264) is adequate for people to act within such structures.

11From the viewpoint of exchange (value appears as a property of things; therefore ownership is important in order to be able to exchange them), it is necessary to justify private property. It is important, on the one hand, for those who let other people work for them because it protects their greater wealth, but on the other hand, also for the workers who need private property in order to take part in exchange processes and to satisfy their needs. It is a characteristic quality of capitalism to mix up both functionalities of property, neglecting the processes in the sphere of production that lies on the bottom of exchange. There are three main strands of justifiable theories (see Munzer, 2005; Spinello & Tavani, 2005): The first theory can be named “person theory” of property and can be found prominently in Hegel. It is assumed that the self cannot be really a self if it remains in itself. It has to extend it to the outer world. Only within this process of externalisation, self-becoming takes place. Private property is justified as it overcomes the opposition between self and world. The second strand, the so called “labour theory” of property, can be found in Locke prominently. Labour theory of property says that, derived from a prior property right in one’s body, one gets the right to private property as revenue for (often exhaustingly) working on things. Private property is established when one mixes his or her labour with nature. Both strands of theory, following Locke and Hegel, are only rational within a natural right perspective that derives property from a context-less, “naturalistic” notion of man and makes claims about the individual before it enters society. Both theories are instances of reading back the demands of an economy of exchange into the nature of man. The third strand, put forward by authors, such as Bentham and Mill, is the “utility or efficiency theory” of private property. In contrast to the natural right perspective, such a kind of theory argues more pragmatically in respect of the outcomes that are fostered by the institution of private property. Here, the idea is that private property establishes incentives to work and to increase life standards because the single workers, due to guaranteed private property rights, can be sure that they will profit from the fruits of their labour. Private property, therefore, ensures that they will work better or harder and this should lead to higher wealth for all society members, in consequence. “Utility or efficiency theory” of private property is characterised as possessive individualistic insofar as social welfare is seen as the outcome of privately and isolated working people, and not primarily as a collaborative task of society. All three justifiable strands merge an individualistic notion of man into the justification of private property.

2.2 Privacy

12The starting point of the modern privacy debate was an article by Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis published in 1890. The motive to write this article was an infringement during the wedding of Warren ´ s daughter by the press. In this article, privacy is defined as the “right to be left alone” (Warren & Brandeis, 1984, p. 76). “The right to be left alone” is identical with the liberal core value of negative freedom (see Rössler, 2001, p. 20–21), and as such it determines most of the subsequent theoretical work on privacy and situates it within this liberal tradition. If privacy is related to the values of autonomy (see Fried, 1968; Rachels, 1975; Reiman, 1976; Altman, 1976; Gavinson, 1984; Rössler, 2001; Bennett & Raab, 2006) and freedom (see Warren & Brandeis, 1984; Westin, 1967) on the individual level, then it is mainly understood as autonomy from society, autonomy to choose, and freedom from intrusion by the state and society. The notion of individual privacy influences the notion of privacy on other levels. On the interpersonal level, when authors speak about intimacy (see Westin, 1967) and other social relationships, what is meant is the ability to engage in contract relations. They assume that an individual is enabled by privacy to enter relationships with others. Social relations and the role of privacy therein have a derived status; derived from the individual level. Many approaches that stress the value of privacy concerning societal aims (see Regan, 1995; Westin, 2003), such as wealth, democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of polls, freedom of opinion, difference, and pluralism, also based their understanding on an individualistic notion of privacy. Therefore, all these approaches have a limited notion of societal issues. Most of the privacy literature stresses the value of privacy for individuation one-sided.

13Today (informational) privacy is most often defined either as control over flows of information or over the access to information. For Alan F. Westin “privacy is the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others” (Westin, 1967, p. 7). Westin focuses on the control of information, which makes him a prototypical proponent of “control-theories” of privacy (see Tavani, 2008, pp. 142–143). On the other hand, there are “access-theories” of privacy (see Tavani, 2008, pp. 141–142). For Gavinson privacy “is related to our concern over our accessibility to others: the extent to which we are known to others, the extent to which others have physical access to us, and the extent to which we are the subject of others' attention” (Gavinson, 1984, p. 347). If we combine these two major strands of privacy approaches one can speak about privacy as the individual control over the access to personal information (see Tavani 2008). Some authors (see Wacks, 2010, pp. 40–41; Solove, 2008, p. 25) challenge the in-determination of “privacy as control” definitions; they argue that these theories do not discuss what specific privacy subjects they refer to. Control theories fail to define the content of privacy. In fact, it is the “freedom to choose privacy” (Wacks, 2010, p. 41) and not a determination of the content of privacy that control theories deal with. Here, privacy is what is subjectively seen as privacy; such theories, therefore, foster individuals’ exclusive control over their data, and do not want to and cannot make claims about privacy within a good society and a happy, fulfilled life (Jaggar, 1983, p. 174). This is different with access theories; such theories can denote a realm of privacy that is not in disposal of the individual’s choice by all means. Instances could be the agreement that the individuals’ bodies, their homes or financial issues, such as bank secrecy, are inherently private. In access theories, privacy is what is objectively private and such theories therefore can foster constraints to individuals’ control over their data in respect of certain values. It is crucial to see that access theories may allow thinking about what privacy should be in a good society, but do not have to. In fact, also access theories of privacy are most often situated within the liberal tradition and have a limited notion of societal issues by stressing the individual control aspect.

3. Similarities between privacy and private property

14We have seen that (informational) privacy is defined as individual control over the access to personal information. If control is meant exclusively, then one can conclude that a relation of exclusion lies behind privacy just as it does in the case of private property. Most often privacy is defined as an individual right against others and society (ensuring negative freedom), so one can conclude that an opposition against the common lies behind the privacy discourse, as well as it is the case with the private property discourse. However, in fact, privacy and private property are not the only values or goals that appear in society. There are others, such as welfare, transparency, and security. Today, privacy and private property are steadily weighed against other values. In the case of private property, we know societal constraints to it and the social obligation of it. In the case of privacy, states are legally allowed to introduce private sphere in order to protect society, for instance from crime or terrorism. The individuals’ exclusive control over private property or their accessibility can be constrained by society. We also observe that the concepts of private property and privacy are changing today. In the age of the Internet, “just as the individual concerned about privacy wants to control who gets access to what and when, the copyright holder wants to control who get access to what and when” (Lessig, 2002, p. 250). Consequently, there is much discussion about, on the one hand, to understand, justify, and criticize intangible private property, and on the other hand, to analyse, welcome, or mourn for the blurring between the public and the private realm online (in respect of SNS see Boyd, 2007).

15We can see that the extent of having private property as well as privacy depends on people’s class status (see Goldring, 1994, p. 313; Papacharissi, 2010). It makes an important difference if one has private property only in things that one needs for life, or if one has much more private property than he or she needs for life. There are rich private property owners who possess more housing space than they can use. On the other hand, there are poor private property owners, on welfare, who only possess their work force. In terms of privacy, there are, for instance, people who rely on sharing the flat with other people that brings along several constraints in temporary withdrawl from other people. They may also be forced to report their whole private living to state authorities (see Gilliom, 2001). However, there are people who have far more privacy. For instance, people who live in castles, well protected from any unappreciated intrusions, whether it be by other people, noise, or anything else. These people may be able to circumvent reporting their financial status to state authorities, using the law effectively on the behalf of tax and investment consultants. We also got the impression that privacy is good for different things depending on one’s class status, just as it is for private property. In capitalism, all people rely on having private property in order to satisfy their material and cultural needs. For the rich and powerful, private property ensures that they have the right to own means of production and use them for their purpose. For the poorer, private property is essential because only via private property, can they reproduce their work force and ensure that they will make their ends meet. In terms of privacy, all people rely on it to become individuals. In capitalism, additionally, all humans rely on having it in order to be competitive within a society that forces them to do so and to enable spaces of escape from that competition at the same time (see Geuss, 2001, p. 88). Rich and powerful people’s call for privacy is not only about individuation, but moreover about ensuring sanctity of their wealth and hiding its origin (one thinks of bank secrecy, for instance). The poorer people also call for privacy in order to protect their lives against overexploitation and other forms of powerful access by the rich (see Demirović, 2004).

16We have seen that both privacy and private property are individualistic ideas and institutions that are directed against society; a relation of exclusion lies at their bottom. It is their structural correspondence with a privately and isolatedly organised production process that makes them influential aspects of a culture of exchange. In capitalism, the sociality of production and exchange is “hidden”. Privacy and private property then seem to be appropriate and reasonable to claim. The specific quality of sociality of production and exchange in capitalism, namely that class society is established and maintained despite free and equal market relations, is echoed in privacy’s and private property’s dependence from class status. How privacy and private property are used and to which extent it is possessed or realized, changes or depends on one’s class status. That private property and privacy can be both constrained by society and are challenged in the digital age, points to the fact that capitalism and culture of exchange are fields of struggles.

4. Social networking sites within a culture of exchange: Surveillance and privacy

17Within a culture of exchange, SNS are mainly commercially organised, privately owned, and profit-oriented. Currently, the most prominent SNS is Facebook that has passed the 750 million user mark and is the second most visited web page in the world. Facebook produces a commodity in order to exchange it for money. Facebook’s funding is mainly based on the targeted advertising business model, which means that it engages in exchange contracts with the advertising industry. It sells data, which is produced while people use the site for different reasons, such as getting news, providing information, staying in touch with friends, making new relations, or organising events, to advertisers. Facebook’s business model is based on secondary use of this data for commodification and valorisation purposes (see Dallas Smythe, 1989; Fuchs, 2011a). Whereas traditional forms of advertising are directed to broad groups of potential buyers, targeted advertising is tailored for exactly defined and differentiated groups, or even single consumers. This demands more detailed, exact, and differentiated knowledge of the users’ needs and (buying) behaviour. The economic reason why profit-oriented SNS develop massive systems of surveillance and store “literally everything”, as a Facebook employee admitted (see Wong, 2010), lies therein. Users’ interests in privacy can only be considered when the need for privacy does not inhibit profit interests.

18One can conclude that SNS’s surveillance based business model, which has its reason in the profit-orientation, can cause a privacy crisis. Facebook changes its terms of use and privacy policy steadily, thereby ever more personal data becomes available publicly to ever more people by its default privacy settings (see McKeon, 2010). These processes have resulted in public outcry. An example of such outcry are several complaints against Facebook, like the complaints by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) addressed to the US Federal Trade Commission (see Epic et al., 2009; 2010), the complaints by Austrian students addressed to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (see Europe versus Facebook 2011), or the investigation by the Nordic data inspection agencies (see Datatilsynet, 2011). Our political economy analysis of privacy on Facebook shows that evoking privacy crisis lies in the nature of profit-oriented SNS.

19It seems that privacy is the opponent term to surveillance. Surveillance, which takes place on SNS out of economic reasons, and privacy contradict each other. However, some lucid authors have made different observations. For instance, Nock says that “a society of strangers is one of immense personal privacy. Surveillance is the cost of that privacy” (Nock, 1993, p. 1). Lyon agrees that “in our nomadic world the society of strangers seeks privacy that actually gives rise to surveillance” (Lyon, 2005, p. 27). Some draw consequences from these observations and argue that referring to privacy cannot be the appropriate way to challenge surveillance (see Stalder, 2002). Critical dialectical theory reminds us that “the conception of the contradictory nature of societal reality does not, however, sabotage knowledge of it and expose it to the merely fortuitous. Such knowledge is guaranteed by the possibility of grasping the contradiction as necessary and thus extending rationality to it” (Adorno, 1976, p. 109). On behalf of our political economy analysis of the culture of exchange, we are able to do exactly what critical dialectical theory proposes. In figure 1, the nexus of privacy, private property, and surveillance within a culture of exchange is presented.

Figure 1: The nexus of privacy, surveillance, and private property within a culture of exchange

Figure 1: The nexus of privacy, surveillance, and private property within a culture of exchange

20The figure shows that both poles of the contradictory pair-relation between privacy and surveillance have also one aspect in common, namely private property. For SNS within a culture of exchange, on the one hand, private property gives rise to surveillance as SNS are based on targeted advertisement funding in order to gain profit. On the other hand, privacy within a culture of exchange is related to private property as privacy is based on exclusion, is an individualistic value, and having as well as using it depends on class status. Thereby, private property and privacy justify each other mutually.

21If privacy is not simply the opponent of surveillance, but also interwoven with it, the claim for privacy has to be relevant not only for users, but also for SNS owners. This perspective, which became possible due to our dialectical understanding of privacy and surveillance within a culture of exchange, may surprise. Commonly, it is held that users fight privacy struggles against Facebook and there is much empirical plausibility that Facebook does not foster privacy issues or even hinders privacy. However, I want to propose a view that sees the claim for privacy not as challenging Facebook’s and others’ business model radically. Due to the outlined relation between privacy and private property within a culture of exchange, also SNS owners have an economic interest in their users’ privacy. SNS owners need users, which have control over their data and are able to exchange their privacy for the usage of the platform voluntarily by agreeing to the terms of use. For them, the challenge is then not to fight against privacy at all; rather, they can support privacy if it is related to private property, and hence alienable or exchangeable.

22From the SNS users’ point of view, privacy remains an important issue because they want to develop their selves protected from disadvantages, brought to them by others. Therefore, they want to have control over which of their personal information becomes known to whom. Individual control, just like private property, seems nowadays the best way to withdraw from societal pressure and to collect one’s strengths to re-enter the competition for social recognition as well as for material and cultural reproduction. Disadvantages of economic surveillance, as it is applied by SNS for advertisement funding, are perceived as less threatening. Problems caused by economic surveillance, as they are discussed within the literature, such as social sorting (see Lyon, 2003) or exploitation (see Fuchs, 2010), are not noticeable directly by the users. Indeed, users may see disadvantages through economic surveillance, but do trade-offs and focus on the social advantages of SNS; users cannot afford to not participate, as SNS have become an integral aspect of our culture. Admittedly, users are free to choose if they want to participate in a SNS or free to choose between different SNS, but at the same time they are forced to participate in SNS because otherwise they cannot participate in culture. In fact, they are also forced to choose commercial, surveillance based SNS because there are no equivalent alternatives.

5. Conclusion

23In table 1, I summarize the preceding line of argumentation. My argument is that privacy contributes to an individual and private way to produce things, which is based on private property. Societal association, then, works “hidden”, largely behind the people’s backs, as Marx says (see Marx, 1976, p. 135), via the exchange of commodities. I understand culture of exchange as the intersection of the spheres of circulation and production in capitalism. Therein people exchange commodities as equal and free private property owners. However, this freedom and equality does not contradict the appropriation of surplus through exploitation. In the sphere of circulation, privacy is a universal right of free and equal people but that does not contradict economic surveillance and exploitation too. This nexus establishes and maintains class society. SNS users cannot challenge economic origins of the problematic privacy intrusions because they act separately and follow their private interests on SNS. They are in this sense alienated from their capacities to create sustainable solutions to problems, such as an SNS without surveillance, for instance. Instead, they contribute, via exchanges (of their data for the advantages of SNS platforms or of their immaterial work for wages), to just these inequalities and asymmetrical relationships, which they wish to be protected from by privacy.

Table 1: Privacy and private property within a culture of exchange

Table 1: Privacy and private property within a culture of exchange

24Consequently, an alternative culture of sharing will need an alternative notion of privacy that should include three different aspects. First, we should evaluate privacy in the view of the fact that it is dependent on one’s class status. Privacy “is therefore posited as undesirable in those cases, where it protects the rich and capital from public accountability, but as desirable, where it tries to protect citizens from corporate surveillance” (Fuchs, 2011b, p. 144). Second, we should decouple privacy from its relation to private property (see Goldring, 1994, pp. 321–322). Third, if privacy is an appropriate concept to express the human need for individuation and autonomy, then we should overcome conceptualising privacy as directed against society (see Etzioni, 1999, p. 196).

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