#9: YouTube is less platform than emerging internet nation-state
February 20, 2017
#100truths-fakenews #9 is taken from John Herman’s “YouTube Monster: PewDiePie and His Populist Revolt,” NYTimes, February 16, 2017:
For now, most of the biggest internet platforms are understood as venues for communication, expression and consumption. YouTube has given us a glimpse at what happens when users start associating social platforms with something more: livelihoods … With more than a billion users, YouTube has become not merely a platform but almost a kind of internet nation-state: the host of a gigantic economy and a set of cultures governed by a new and novel sort of corporation, sometimes at arm’s length and other times up close.
Herman goes on to explain how YouTube’s recent firing of PewDiePie, one of its biggest and top-earning celebrities, for his either real or fake alt-right leanings (does it matter? can we ever know?) exposes a cluster of truths about this platform, truths that I have been documenting since the site’s inception, and which both he and I understand as bellwethers for other “developing” social networks and the internet that has been built by and on them. Namely, that YouTube is a “performatively self-aware” political-economy (Truth #10); that is, a new kind of nation-state rooted in, and ruled by, self-aware performances about the rules and truths of its own conditions and practices; that is, self-aware productions about the conditions and experiences of social media labor, affect, ownership, and politics that also teeter on, or sit uncomfortably in, the true/fake divide.
- Buy It Now: Lessons from Ebay, Michelle White, 2012
- Immaterial Labor, Maurizio Lazzarato
- “Life Within and Against Work: Affective Labor, Feminist Critique, and Post-Fordist Politics,” Kathi Weeks, 2007
- Learning from YouTube, Alexandra Juhasz
- #100hardtruths-#fakenews: a primer on digital media literacy