Collectivize Facebook – A Pre-Trial: Transforming Facebook and other trillion-dollar companies into new transnational cooperatives under user control


  • Jonas Staal


  • Jan Fermon
  • Sonia De Jager
  • Mette Birkedal Bruun
  • Annemie Vanackere

Organisation: Privacy Salon

Room: Online 1

Timing: 10:30 - 11:45 on 28 January 2021

With over two billion users today, Facebook impacts our social, economic and political lives in an unprecedented way. In response, artist Jonas Staal and lawyer Jan Fermon initiated a collective action lawsuit to force legal recognition of Facebook as a public domain that should be under ownership and control of its users. During this pre-trial, Staal and Fermon will introduce the legal argumentation of their indictment, and invite “witnesses of the future” to provide testimony of the possible futures of Facebook and other trillion-dollar companies under collective ownership.

• In what ways have Facebook and other trillion-dollar companies undermined the right to self-determination of peoples and individuals as enshrined in Article 1 of the United Nations Charter?
• What could be new forms of collective ownership over trillion dollar companies beyond the corporation and the state?
• Can we envision a collectivized Facebook as a transnational cooperative under user governance and ownership?
• What would be the new social contract of a collectivized/cooperatized Facebook? Do we ensure encryption, decentralize servers, ban algorithms, dismantle its extractivist infrastructures?


Jonas Staal

visual artist (NL)

Jonas Staal is a Dutch visual artist. His work deals with the relationship between art, democracy, and propaganda and has often generated public debate.


Jan Fermon

Sonia De Jager

Erasmus University / Regenerative Feedback (NL)

Born in Buenos Aires in 1988, S. de Jager is currently a doctoral researcher at Erasmus University, writing a thesis about the philosophy of artificial intelligence. De Jager also works at the Willem de Kooning Academie as an art theory tutor and runs the yearly music and philosophy conference Regenerative Feedback.

Mette Birkedal Bruun

University of Copenhagen (DK)

I am professor of church history at the University of Copenhagen, specializing in monks and other forms of religiously motivated withdrawal from the world. More importantly in this context, I am the director of the Danish National Research Foundation Centre for Privacy Studies which is dedicated to research into historical notions of privacy and the private. The Centre was founded in 2017; it brings together historians of architecture, law, political ideas, religion and social conditions. The research team examines how explicit and implicit notions of privacy shape relations between individuals and society across diverse historical contexts. We are particularly interested in indications of privacy as a value and as a threat, and aim to mobilize historical insights as a resource for research an debates on contemporary privacy issues.

Annemie Vanackere


Annemie Vanackere studied philosophy in Leuven and Paris, as well as theater and film studies in Leuven for one year afterwards. She has worked as production manager for STUC and the festival KLAPSTUK, and in 1993 she took over the artistic directorship of the Nieuwpoorttheater in Ghent. From 1995 to 2011 Annemie Vanackere was employed at the Rotterdamse Schouwburg, since 2001 as artistic co-director of the Rotterdamse Schouwburg as well as director of the affiliated Productiehuis Rotterdam. Until 2011 Annemie Vanackere was also artistic director of "De Internationale Keuze van de Rotterdamse Schouwburg", the annual international theater, dance, and performance festival that she co-founded in Rotterdam. Since September 2012 she has been the artistic and managing director of HAU Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin, which she relaunched with her team on November 1, 2012. HAU Hebbel am Ufer produces and presents contemporary artistic positions that explore the intersection of theatre, dance, and performance. In addition, music, visual arts, and theoretically oriented discursive events are core components of the diverse program. Instead of relying on a permanent ensemble, HAU develops and presents international co-productions, festivals, and projects realized within and beyond Berlin’s international dance and theatre scene. HAU Hebbel am Ufer is also executive producer of the international “Tanz im August” festival.