Capitalism, Hacking, and Digital Media

  • David L. AltheideEmail author


This chapter examines the logic of developments in information formats that have produced unintended consequences due to misuse, hacking, and publication of private and protected information. The same logic that enables swift searches and instrumental behavior can also be used to surveil the user and capture information about the user’s practices, preferences, choices, and lifestyle, particularly secured information that can be used to obtain additional information. Based on risk-reduction logics, various accounting and surveillance systems to rationalize marketing strategies and profits, such as TV ratings, consumer credit scores, and quantitative internet “clicks,” ironically, were central to the neo-liberal project despite being vulnerable to manipulation. This logic is reflected in various intended uses of the mediated information, as well as the unintended uses, including “hacking,” or the stealing and unauthorized interception of communication for nefarious purposes, often involving money. These points will be illustrated with recent developments involving the use of social media, especially the ways in which media conglomerates like Google and Facebook enabled Russian-related agents to interfere in the 2016 US Presidential Election (Altheide, Terrorism and the Politics of Fear, 2nd edn. Rowman & Littlefield, New York, 2017). Other examples are drawn from the hacking of hundreds of millions of credit reports controlled by the giant credit agency, Equifax, and some three billion Yahoo accounts.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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