The article proposes archival thinking as an analytical framework for studying Facebook. Following recent debates on data colonialism, it argues that Facebook dialectically assumes a role of a new archon of public records, while being unarchivable by design. It then puts forward counter archiving – a practice developed to resist the epistemic hegemony of colonial archives – as a method that allows the critical study of the social media platform, after it had shut down researcher’s access to public data through its Application Programming Interface (API). After defining and justifying counter archiving as a method for studying datafied platforms, two counter archives are presented as proof of concept. The article concludes by complicating the shifting boundaries between the archivist, the activist and the scholar, as the imperative of research methods after datafication.
Keynote Lecture, Digital Methods Initiative Winter School, January 2020.
The full paper is forthcoming in European Journal of Communication.