Article on Facebook Messenger for Media, Culture & Society

How to make sense of the latest revelations on Facebook’s data sharing? For over 2+ years Anne Helmond and I studied the evolution and expansion of Facebook’s platform boundaries. Our paper is titled “The political economy of Facebook’s platformization in the mobile ecosystem: Facebook Messenger as a platform instance” and details how Facebook evolved as a data infrastructure. If you want to understand Facebook’s past, current state, and future trajectory, we offer a methodological approach to examine FB’s economic growth and technological expansion. See this picture for our full dataset which consists of financial filings and archived developer documentation. The full paper can be download (open acces) here.

Conceptually, we consider Facebook not as a site, but as a data infrastructure, and individual apps as “platform instances”, which are “technical and economic platform configurations that facilitate connectivity and interactions among end-users and multiple partners.” We used Facebook Messenger as a case study of such a “platform instance” and analyze how all Facebook apps follow a similar trajectory: 1) build ‘ubiquitous utilities’, 2) integrate businesses, 3) monetize users. Download this super fancy PDF by @fvandervlist of the platformization of Messenger.

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