An in-depth study of Google and Facebook
Digital Platforms as an Economic, Social and Political Power

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Victor From-Poulsen

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In the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election and during a time of growing concern about the influence of large technology companies, this dissertation provides an analysis of the power of the tech giants. The aim of this dissertation is to break down and accurately describe the kind of power that large technology companies possess, such that the potential dangers that they present to advanced democracies can be better understood and dealt with.

 

This power is examined by looking specifically at Google and Facebook, as their practices with regards to their collection and use of data present significant concerns related to public manipulation, privacy and competition. Power is conceptualized and evaluated through the use of Susan Strange’s theory of structural power, which describes power not in a ‘have or have not’ perspective, but rather as something established in a series of different structures, the primary ones of which are security, production, finance and knowledge. These structures are examined individually through a number of cases and issues related to Google and Facebook that highlight the extent of these companies’ power within the structures.

 

This examination demonstrates that while these tech giants possess some of the same capacities for influence as previous dominant transnational corporations, such as their sheer market power and political capture, they also inhabit a whole new kind of power. The degree of social significance that Google and Facebook exhibit and their use of data give these companies a capacity for social and political influence that is specific to technology and data companies. This influence is highlighted in their impact on information dissemination and election interference, as demonstrated by the 2016 US presidential election, and necessitates regulatory action to limit.

 

Specialet er skrevet af Victor August From-Poulsen ved institut for statskundskab på Københavns Univeristet og blev bedømt til karakteren 10.

 

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