When immersed in a capitalist society individuals often fail to see the ways in which they are exploited, and when these discussions do come into discourse they are often geared toward workplace labor. Less commonly do we consider the ways in which these problems arise in conjunction with free labor, mainly performed in digital spaces. While less often considered or discussed, the exploitation occurring in the digital world is real and has substantial consequences, particularly when the digital spaces involve sensitive information and data. This paper aims to address how data capitalism functions in three different digital health spaces: online patient forums and support groups, mental health apps, and direct-to-consumer DNA sequencing companies. In order to show how patients are persuaded to join and contribute to these digital spaces there will be an investigation of the rhetorical strategies utilized in marketing tactics. We will consider the economic functioning of data capitalism through a basic Marxist perspective, which criticized the capitalist mode of production and exploitation of workers, or in this case the creators of data.


Spring 2022


Direct-to-consumer genome sequencing, rhetoric, marketing, free labor, capitalism

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