The purpose of this article is to unpack the complexities of how economic value is generated in the digital economy, specifically on social media. This article looks at social networking sites (SNSs), such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and analyses the labour that is carried out by SNS users.

This is a theoretically oriented project that has aimed to identify and analyse the ways in which SNS users create value and profit for corporations. The article explores the labour processes carried out on social media such as the generation of data, the creation of content and the creation of value through affective networking.

The author outlines the obvious forms of content creation, such as web design and multimedia production that are carried out online. However a more implicit form of creation, such as memes, home-videos and image-creation is also discussed. It is this implicit form of creation that the article focuses on, and the author explores how this unpaid labour becomes a part of the commercial structure of SNSs.

The author examines the affective connections users form online and how these connections are exploited. Similarly the productive processes that SNS users carry out are examined and the commercial value of these processes. The author acknowledges that many SNS users benefit emotionally and socially from SNSs. However, the article concludes that users are rendered global value subjects in the commercial structure of social networking sites.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.