Wages for Facebook, an on-campus exhibit in the Blackwood Gallery’s current show Falsework, is the current billboard on the Davis Building. Three paragraphs from a manifesto and a website address glow at visitors on a white background.

The launch of the website in January opened up the debate about whether Facebook should pay its users since their activities generate revenue for them, largely through advertising.

Inspired by the 1970s feminist movement Wages for Housework, which argued that the state should pay women for their unwaged housework and caregiving, Wages for Facebook extends the discussion by focusing on online capitalism and exploitation. The project has been written about in the New York Times blog and elsewhere.

The project, spearheaded by four work-study students at the Blackwood Gallery, includes free buttons with the message “Workers of the world, unite!”, a reading group, an artist talk, and an interactive wall on the second floor of the library across from the washrooms.

“On the wall we will have questions, images, tweets, quotes, and great reading references in regards to digital labour,” said Kayla Tremblett, one of the students. “It’d be great if we could get people to come out and participate in the campaign face to face.”

Until November, the ICCIT is also hosting “Participation or Exploitation?”, a five-session reading group on critical perspectives on social media, as part of the project. The reading group will consist of discussions in the Blackwood Gallery facilitated by faculty. The topics will include the economics of selling personal information, gender and social media, and alternatives and resistance.

On October 29 from 1 to 4 p.m., Laurel Ptak, the artist commissioned to make the Wages for Facebook billboard, will lead a workshop at the gallery. Ptak will explore the question of whether what we do on Facebook is work and how we would calculate its value.


Take the poll

The Blackwood Gallery is running a poll on “Wages for Facebook” as part of the exhibit. You can send responses to [email protected] until October 20, 2014. The results will be revealed and discussed at the Wages for Facebook Workshop with Laurel Ptak on October 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Blackwood gallery.

Are you a Facebook user? Why or why not?

What do you mostly use it for?

How often do you update Facebook?

How does social media affect your interactions with other people?

Does social media feel like work to you?

Do you care that Facebook is making money off of your newsfeed?

Would being compensated for using social media change how and why you use it?

What type of Facebook work could logically be compensated?

What kind of governing body could represent workers of Facebook?

Are you interested in participating in the Wages For Facebook campaign? Why or why not?