Big Data, ubiquitous exploitation, and targeted advertising: new facets of the cultural industry

Deborah Christina Antunes Ari Fernando Maia About the authors


The emergence of the so-called digital culture from the development of new information and communication technologies led to criticisms of the concept of cultural industry, elaborated by Horkheimer and Adorno in the 1940s, defining the new configuration based on interactivity, open communication and greater freedom among users. However, to a critical view, the new configuration is even more totalitarian than the previous one. All the actions of users in the digital environment generate information that can be compiled and organized according to mathematical algorithms, configuring the so-called Big Data; such information includes personal preferences, political trends, gender, and even personality profiles, and leads to ubiquitous surveillance and manipulation through targeted advertising, being politically and economically far more effective than in the age of the cultural industry described by Adorno. The update of the critical theory of society implies understanding this new configuration, its pretensions and its contradictions. Therefore, the present article aims both to update the concept of cultural industry denouncing, thus, the new forms of manipulation, and to criticize the idea that freedom is immanent to the Digital Culture, present in its defenders.

cultural industry; critical theory of society; Big Data; digital culture

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