Contextualizing the phenomenon of big data: A looming crisis of monopolies in the global media & big tech

Hui Ju Tsai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the risks of instrumentalizing big data and how the use of big data has influenced new media and communication studies. While a handful of large tech companies claim that their use of big data provides a better consumer experience, it has also allowed them to extend their domination and monopolize digital infrastructure all over the world. This paper analyses data appropriation as a form of exploitation and the ways that tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon generate profits by accessing large amounts of data on every one of us without hindrance. We urgently need to take specific measures to create a better conceptual framework for new communication and media services and increase the public’s understanding of big data. This article addresses these issues in four ways. First, it examines the status of big data applications in the global entertainment and media industry and highlights the monopolization of contemporary digital platform services to discuss market monopoly, data monitoring, and the commercialization of consumers and citizenship. Second, it adopts a theoretical perspective to discuss the instrumentalization of big data technology and the problem of dataism. Third, in light of the current predicament of big data research and application, it puts forward a critical political-economic view and advocates for critical media and data research in the field of critical data studies. Finally, this article calls for the application and research of media data to be reintegrated into social and public values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-130
Number of pages42
JournalTaiwan Journal of East Asian Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Big data
  • Critical data studies
  • Dataveillance
  • Digital positivism
  • Platform capitalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • General Arts and Humanities


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