About the project

Object-Oriented Subject is a joint project initiated by researchers Lucia Dossin and Lídia Pereira in which they will investigate the strategies of Facebook’s data processing factory. By focusing on the inference of personal attributes from user data for categorisation purposes, Lucia and Lídia will sketch the internal structure of the object-oriented subject.

The research is founded on the premise that the activities carried on by Facebook should be described and examined as an industrial process, where personal data are the raw material for the profiling of users, which in turn constitutes the product with exchange value upon which Facebook’s business model is built. The transformation of the subject into an object with commercial value and governmentality potential carries with it a number of questions, among which the impact these practices have on the wellbeing, health, rights and security of users.

The leading motivation behind this research is rooted on the assumption that not all aspects of human subjectivity can or should be quantified. Thus, it assumes as a problem the application of an ideology of scientific positivity to the social sciences and the arts for marketing and governance purposes, with a focus on the consequences this represents for the individual as well as society at large.

This research intends to focus on dissecting the inference of property values from raw data in profiles used by Facebook. The researchers would like to illustrate the landscape of efforts, methods and strategies employed by Facebook in its mission to build profiles of our subjectivity and maps of our desires. By claiming to be able to predict the future (e.g. interests and behaviors), this company has been able to make billions in transactions with sales departments and governments. Whether the supposed predictive accuracy comes from deep knowledge, as an effect of control/manipulation or a combination of both is a question that remains mostly unanswered despite being such an urgent one. In any case, the researchers see the extraction, storage and organization of data in detailed profiles as extremely problematic.

The researchers hope to successfully achieve a mapping system which allows them, as well as interested parties, to understand, visualise and explain the existing relationships between the different interactions within or around Facebook’s platform, the data extracted from these interactions and the transformation of these data into categories, which are themselves a manifestation of the company’s interests.

Furthermore the conclusions of this research should clarify the type and nature of these categories, as well as their usage for targeted advertisement purposes and who the target audiences really are.

Throughout the duration of this project the researchers will be detailing their advances, insights and conclusions in the form of bi-monthly blog posts, which can be consulted under the “BLOG” section of this website.


This project has the support of: