Giving by taking away: Big Tech, data colonialism and the reconfiguration of social good
Magalhães, J.C., & Couldry, N.
International Journal of Communication, 15, 343-362
Big Tech companies have recently led and financed projects that claim to use datafication
for the “social good.” This article explores what kind of social good it is that this sort of
datafication engenders. Drawing mostly on the analysis of corporate public
communications and patent applications, it finds that these initiatives hinge on the
reconfiguration of social good as datafied, probabilistic, and profitable. These features, the
article argues, are better understood within the framework of data colonialism. Rethinking
“doing good” as a facet of data colonialism illuminates the inherent harm to freedom these
projects produce and why, to “give,” Big Tech must often take away.