With three billion users today, Facebook impacts our social, economic and political lives in an unprecedented way. Collectivize Facebook is a collective action lawsuit that aims to force legal recognition of Facebook as a public domain that should be under the ownership and control of its users. The corporation instrumentalises users as neo-feudal data workers, turning our affective labour into its capital. Facebook employs racist algorithms and is used in various surveillance capacities that infringe upon privacy and further impact democratic elections in disproportionate ways, of which data capture and targeted campaigns of Cambridge Analytica are a recent example. And the corporation has willfully advised authoritarian regimes around the world.
Through this project, realised in collaboration with Jan Fermon, Staal demands that Facebook is recognised as a public domain and its ownership is transferred to its users, thus transforming it into a transnational cooperative, under shared ownership and governance of its users. Through “pre-trials” (or preliminary tribunals) Staal and Fermon involve the public in the argumentation of the indictment and invite them to join as co-claimants, before filing the indictment at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. These events also involve “witnesses of the future” that testify on how to govern Facebook as 3 billion co-owners if the lawsuit is won.