This presentation focuses on the organization of click farming—the production, marketing, and selling of followers, likes, and comments on social media platforms such as Instagram—in Indonesia. Field research and interviews with more than 30 individuals involved in click farming reveals a complex distribution of labor that turns discussions concerning ‘digital sweatshops’ and ‘digital divides’ on their heads.
On the one hand, Indonesian click farming is characterized by distributed agency, as a wide range of individuals, who generally work individually or in small groups in major urban areas such as Jakarta, focus on the national market. On the other hand, there are strong transnational connections, as the production and sale of followers crosses national borders.
The presentation will describe some of these processes, and raise questions about how we can think about digital labor through click farming, particularly with regard to the interface between automation and manual labor.
Furthermore, as this is an evolving project, the talk will raise issues concerning the possibilities and limitations of ethnographic research with regard to this particular field of study and discuss possible routes forward.
Johan Lindquist is Professor of Social Anthropology and Director of the Forum for Asian Studies at Stockholm University. He is a member of the editorial boards of Pacific Affairs and Public Culture, has published articles in journals such as Ethnos, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Mobilities, Public Culture, Pacific Affairs, and International Migration Review, is the co-editor of Figures of Southeast Asian Modernity (University of Hawai’i Press, 2013), the author of The Anxieties of Mobility: Development and Migration in the Indonesian Borderlands (University of Hawai’i Press, 2009), and the director of the documentary film B.A.T.A.M. (DER, 2005).