While making a series of films exploring how social media give a democratic voice to people in repressive countries, director Jakob Gottschau began to question the mechanisms behind some of the social media giants, in particular Facebook. Around that time, a friend of his had his Facebook account shut down because he had posted a 50-year-old picture of some happy, nude hippies.
"Facebook has collected and saved enormous amounts of information about all of us. And yet we know very little about Facebook." - Jakob Gottschau
“He had a hard time getting any explanation from Facebook,” Gottschau says. “The company basically didn’t communicate with him at all. This sparked me to begin my research into Facebook, exploring how the company handles core democratic values like freedom of expression and privacy.”
All the more important because, as our number-one social media space, Facebook is a de facto monopoly, Gottschau says.
“Facebook has collected and saved enormous amounts of information about all of us. We have voluntarily shared information and we have voluntarily allowed Facebook, by signing their terms of service, to use this information for whatever purpose the company might find useful.”
“And yet we know very little about Facebook – why they censor pages, how they commercialise our personal data and how and why they keep the data, even when we, as users, have deleted it.”
Facebookistan aims to provide a new understanding of how Facebook governs the biggest public space for discourse in the world. While it promotes openness and transparency, those could be said to be the very values missing within Facebook’s own ethos, Gottschau says.
“Transparency and accountability are key parameters when it comes to public trust. With my film, I want to show how Facebook performs within these parameters.”
Jakob Gottschau has numerous documentary productions under his belt, both as director and producer.
Facebookistan is produced by Felicity Willetts for Gottschau’s own company, Express TV-Produktion. Premiere at CPH:DOX 2015.