Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


6 March 2019

Communities of Tracking: Mapping the Ecology of Third-Party Services Across Top Sites in the EU

Presented By Rasmus Helles & Klaus Bruhn Jensen
  • 1:00-2:00pm
  • U1.22 Brockington Building

About this event

Departing from a comparative study of internet and other media use in China, the United States, and Europe – The Peoples’ Internet (PIN) – this presentation focuses on web use in Europe, specifically the measurement of web use through a variety of tracking services. First, we outline the communication model informing the PIN project: the integration of one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many communication on digital platforms. Importantly, web users also communicate many-to-one, speaking into the system (Jensen & Helles, 2017) and leaving behind bit trails that lend themselves to monitoring and monetization. Second, we present an empirical study of all trackers and other third-party technologies (TPS) found on the top-150 sites for each of the EU-28 countries. The analysis shows that the TPS ecology is highly diverse in terms of ownership, regionalization, and site types, and that it differs significantly between countries and regions in the EU, which represent communities of meaning as well as of consumption. Third, we discuss the implications of the findings for media systems theory (Hallin & Mancini, 2004, 2011) and for an understanding of the contemporary media environment as an instance of surveillance capitalism (Zuboff, 2019).