The Gentrification of the Internet by Jessa Lingel

Chances are, when you go on the Internet, you are only accessing a handful of social media and publications most of the time. Those born in the late 1900s remember visiting many online communities and websites that used relatively basic tools to publish content and make communication between community members possible. But today, most of the content we consume is on mega-giant social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok.

According to the social scientist Dr. Jessa Lingel who researches digital culture and technological distributions of power, these multi-billion dollar companies have gentrified the Internet into a handful of platforms with consistent user experiences and powerful publishing tools that caretakers of smaller communities and blogs can’t afford to reproduce. As a result, users have migrated to mainstream social media platforms to stay in touch with their existing connections and access a much larger audience while using their polished and better publishing tools.

Dr. Lingel spends a considerable portion of the book describing how neighbourhoods become gentrified in real life and then compares how a similar process happens in the cyberspaces by for-profit social media platforms that generate profit through surveillance capitalism. I recommend this book to people who work towards creating a more diverse and equitable internet.