Empowerment: Analysing Technologies of Multiple Variable Visibility

Ariane Ellerbrok
2010 Surveillance & Society   unpublished
This paper notes the emergence of technologies of multiple variable visibility-that is, technologies that render individuals visible to diverse interests simultaneously via the corporate ownership of intimate personal data generated in a peer-to-peer information context. Focusing on Facebook, a classic example of technology of this genre, I argue that the various levels of visibility that are facilitated by these technologies cannot and should not be analysed in isolation from one another. The
more » ... m one another. The complex dynamics of power that are mobilised via the strategic employment of multiple visibilities complicates the typical representation of Facebook and other surveillance technologies of its ilk as one-dimensional conduits for either empowerment or exploitation. Rather, in the context of these technologies, I argue that visibilities (plural) facilitate combined experiences of empowerment and disempowerment, a process that not only speaks to the type of data collection enabled through this process but also implies a whole serious of implications specific to their use.