Knowing User Populations at Scale: From the Science of the State to Platform Governmentality


Talk at 2018 Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, Prague, Czech Republic

How can institutions that own and operate large-scale social media platforms come to know “their users” at scale? In this paper, I discuss ways of knowing user populations at scale, drawing on Foucault’s account of governmentality, particularly the role of statistics in the formation of the modern nation state.