“Data Strikes”: Evaluating the effectiveness of a new form of collective action against technology companies

Nicholas Vincent, Brent Hecht, Shilad Sen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The public is increasingly concerned about the practices of large technology companies with regards to privacy and many other issues. To force changes in these practices, there have been growing calls for “data strikes.” These new types of collective action would seek to create leverage for the public by starving business-critical models (e.g. recommender systems, ranking algorithms) of much-needed training data. However, little is known about how data strikes would work, let alone how effective they would be. Focusing on the important commercial domain of recommender systems, we simulate data strikes under a wide variety of conditions and explore how they can augment traditional boycotts. Our results suggest that data strikes can be effective and that users have more power in their relationship with technology companies than they do with other companies. However, our results also highlight important trade-offs and challenges that must be considered by potential organizers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Web Conference 2019 - Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2019
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages1931-1943
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781450366748
DOIs
StatePublished - May 13 2019
Event2019 World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2019 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: May 13 2019May 17 2019

Publication series

NameThe Web Conference 2019 - Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2019

Conference

Conference2019 World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2019
CountryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Period5/13/195/17/19

Keywords

  • Data strikes
  • Online collective action
  • Recommender systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Software

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    Vincent, N., Hecht, B., & Sen, S. (2019). “Data Strikes”: Evaluating the effectiveness of a new form of collective action against technology companies. In The Web Conference 2019 - Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2019 (pp. 1931-1943). (The Web Conference 2019 - Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2019). Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1145/3308558.3313742