Is it crowdsourcing or crowdsensing? An analysis of human participation in digital platforms in the age of surveillance capitalism

Fernando Ressetti Pinheiro Marques Vianna, Francis Kanashiro Meneghetti


This paper contributes to studies on the dark side of digitization by relying on the concept of surveillance capitalism to analyze the role of individuals in digital organizations in performing activities known as crowdsourcing. Even though there is a discourse of empowerment and mutual interest exchanges between organizations and individuals through crowdsourcing, the transformation of computer systems into the so-called 4.0 era or 4.0 industry seems to have altered their role in digital organizations as well. These individuals began to be analyzed from the data they produce, and no longer from their desires, thus approaching the sensors of these organizations. Using the case study method, we analyze the contents of the Netflix, Facebook and Google platform home pages, as well as their terms of service and privacy policies. The way users participate in these platforms is analyzed, as well as the way their data are exploited, and the reason why this continuous exploitation of data occurs. We argue that this exploration alienates the empowering and participatory concept of crowdsourcing and brings the passive concept of individuals closer together as sensors, or crowdsensing. This approach, instead of treating individuals as singular, quantifies and categorizes their uniqueness to meet the controlling longings of hegemonic organizational structures, limited by capitalist discourse, or surveillance capitalism.


Organizational studies. Digitalização. Teoria pós-moderna.

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