With three billion users today, Facebook impacts our social, economic and political lives in an unprecedented way. Collectivize Facebook is a collective action lawsuit that aims to force legal recognition of Facebook as a public domain that should be under ownership and control of its users.
Facebook infringes upon the right to self-determination of peoples and individuals in various ways. The corporation instrumentalizes users as neo-feudal data workers, turning our affective labor into its capital. Facebook employs racist algorithms and is used in various surveillance capacities that infringe upon privacy and further impacts democratic elections in disproportionate ways, of which data capture and targeted campaigns of Cambridge Analytica are a recent example. And the corporation has willfully advised authoritarian regimes such as that of Duterte in the Philippines.
The indictment against Facebook therefore demands that (1) Facebook is recognized as a public domain and (2) the ownership model of Facebook is transferred to its 3 billion users. This means the lawsuit does not want to reform Facebook or to nationalize it: its aim is to transform Facebook into a transnational cooperative, under shared ownership and governance of its users.
Through “pre-trials” (preliminary tribunals) in theaters, cultural spaces and online platforms, Staal and Fermon involve the public in the argumentation of the indictment and invite them to join as co-claimants, before filing the indictment at the UN Human Rights Court in Geneva. These pre-trials also involve “witnesses of the future” that testify on how to govern Facebook as 3 billion co-owners if the lawsuit is won.
Jonas Staal and Jan Fermon
Jan Fermon (lawyer), Quentin Marissal (lawyer), Jonas Staal (artist), Nadine Gouders (coordinator Studio JS), Paul Kuipers (architect), Remco van Bladel (designer), Ruben Hamelink (video editor), Isabelle Sully (indictment editor). HAU project team: Annemie Vanackere (artistic and managing director), Sarah Reimann (dramaturgy), Elisabeth Knauf (head of production), Jana Penz (production), Annika Frahm (head of communications), Jan Menden (content management)
HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berlin (DE)