LFI Course Materials/Week 8: Corporate power

From Library Freedom Wiki Page
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Week 8: Corporate power on the internet[edit]

  • Real time lecture: July 12th 10 am Pacific/1 pm Eastern


The internet can certainly be a democratizing force, amplifying the voices of individuals and communities who have been politically and economically disenfranchised and helping give rise to new media that propels economic opportunities, creativity, and new social movements.

But the same internet is also under the control of a small handful of private companies, accountable to none but their shareholders. These few private companies, like Amazon, Google, and Facebook, shape the internet in ways that serve their bottom line––largely offering a “free” service in exchange for collecting vast amounts of data on their users. Business as usual relies that trove of user data, collected to send hyper-targeted and often manipulative advertisements to people based on their race, age, gender, religion, political orientation, income level, and sexual orientation, and much of it is obtained without meaningful consent. This week’s guest lecturer April Glaser, a Slate journalist, will tell us more about how the economics of corporate data collection, what is and isn’t happening politically to rein in powerful internet giants, and the myriad harms that data profiling has on vulnerable and marginalized communities online.

Learning objectives[edit]

  • Understand ethical/privacy issues of major tech and internet companies
  • Learn about the regulatory and political environment—and the lack thereof
  • Discuss harm reduction strategies for using their platforms


Please pick any three!

Slightly off topic, but important:

Guest lecturer[edit]

April Glaser is a Slate technology writer and co-hosts the podcast If Then.


  • Discuss the business model of the internet and how corporations use data toward their bottom lines
  • Discuss the major issues with this business model
  • How were these companies allowed to grow unchecked for so long?
  • What kinds of policy interventions are possible?


  • Lecture, readings, discussion forum, and small group work