Between Visibility and Surveillance: Challenges to Anti-corporate Activism in Social Media

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As activists move from alternative media platforms to commercial social media platforms they face increasing challenges in protecting their online security and privacy. While government surveillance of activists is well-documented in both scholarly research and the media, corporate surveillance of activists remains under-researched. This chapter examines BP’s surveillance of activists who criticize the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme as ‘greenwashing’. In this way, it goes beyond corporations’ uses of big data and instead explores how they monitor and discuss strategies for responding to the activities of individual activists in social media. Theoretically, it draws on conceptions of visibility in social sciences and media studies as well as business-society interactions in the CSR literature and in media studies. Empirically, it draws on files from BP on specific civil society individuals obtained through Subject Access Requests under the UK Data Protection Act 1998 as well as press responses from BP.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProtests in the Information Age : Social Movements, Digital Practices and Surveillance
EditorsLucas Melgaço, Jeffrey Monaghan
Number of pages20
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)9780415791403
ISBN (Electronic)9781315212357, 9781351815437
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
SeriesRoutledge Studies in Crime, Security and Justice

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