Social media, big data, and critical marketing

Authored by: Christian Fuchs

The Routledge Companion to Critical Marketing

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138641402
eBook ISBN: 9781315630526
Adobe ISBN:


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Social media and big data have become ubiquitous keywords in everyday life. The term social media is commonly used for social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, Weibo), blogs (e.g. WordPress, Tumblr), micro-blogs (e.g. Twitter), user-generated content-sharing sites (e.g. YouTube, Flickr, Instagram), or wikis (e.g. Wikipedia) (Fuchs, 2017b, chapter 2). Big data refers to the collection and analysis of data in such vast quantities that humans are incapable of processing them – only algorithms can (Fuchs, 2017b, chapter 2). There are diverse sources of big data, one example being credit and debit card transactions. So, the term big data is not limited to social media. At the same time, given that Facebook has about 1.8 million monthly active users 1 and Google processes more than 100 billion searches per year on average, 2 these two U.S. Internet companies are probably the largest data processors in the world. This tells of an inherent link between big data and social media. While social media characterize the techno-social systems enabling human interaction on the Internet, big data are the digital results of human activities. Google, Facebook and other online platforms tend to store all data and meta-data for long periods of time and therefore require huge server farms consisting of numerous supercomputers.

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