In 2015, advertising was introduced on Instagram, the most popular image-based social media platform worldwide. The consequences of this operation are gigantic because –the number of users is projected to surpass 111 million users in 2019- Instagram allows the advertising industry to harvest a countless amount of data mainly collected from its parent company, Facebook. With machine learning techniques analyzing and creating behavioural profiles based on all our online activities, we are increasingly exposed not only to lose fundamental privacy rights but also to be categorized as ‘dividuals’ – a networked human being who is classed, predictable, profitable and ultimately, incapable of making decisions by itself.
In order to explore different strategies of algorithmic resistance, Thanks for letting us know suggests the obfuscation technique as both a political gesture and active response to the adverts on Instagram. Based on the idea of adding noise into a signal in technical systems, the piece raises the question of, given that algorithms learn from data – what might it happens if you make your own data lie? Thanks for letting us know is a sculpture of a white metal bracket that holds a small portable computer installed in front of the window gallery. For more than 13 minutes, I recorded the action of scrolling down through my own private Instagram feed looking for as many sponsored posts as could report. The recording does not show the reasons directly rather it brings them into the context of my intention to create a critical space around dependency and control in the so-called worlds of algorithmic governance and data economies.
Spanish artist and activist Manuel Beltrán responds to the exploitation of personal information in Data Production Labour, 2017. The piece was exhibited last year in The Glass Room – a thoughtful show curated by The Tactical Tech – in which the artist speculates about how humans would be profitable in a foreseeable post-work world. Through an interactive system composed of a sensor and facial recognition software, Beltrán’s machine conveys a valuable correlation between the tension of both reading and feelings while simultaneously the visitor is scrolling down through the Facebook feed. Ultimately, Beltrán argues that the human-data generated in social media is an inherent form of productive labour, thus through a printed receipt result encourages the audience to claim the payment for their labour from Facebook.