Frank A. Pasquale
To what extent will academics study data-driven firms like Facebook, and to what extent will they try to join forces with such firms’ own researchers, to study the firms’ users, clients, and suppliers? This essay, a chapter in a collection on the future of privacy law, examines the stakes of data collection, analysis, and use in an era of corporate social science. Social scientists, as users of models, may find that they can only access important data if they shift their inquiries toward the creation of “model users” (i.e., platform participants whose behavior maximizes the profits of the platform controlling the data). More disinterested or emancipatory research agendas can better promote the autonomy and well-being of platform user.