The C.E.O. of Facebook has met criticism in recent years surrounding the company’s collection and use of personal information. Now, UW-Milwaukee is home to a new initiative to safeguard the privacy rights of social media users.
‘The Zuckerberg Files’ were released digitally last week, serving as an archive of every public utterance Facebook’s C.E.O. has ever made. His personal opinions about the role of social media and the ethics of privacy are enumerated within this virtual reservoir of transcripts and videos. School of Information Studies (SOIS) Professor Michael Zimmer, along with a team of UWM students, spent days painstakingly transcribing documentaries, speeches, and interviews – going as far back as Zuckerberg’s time as a Harvard undergrad. The archive currently contains 100 different transcripts and almost 50 videos, and is growing daily.
Facebook is a multi-billion dollar corporation with an international staff and enormous user base, but it is still largely the brainchild of one man.
“I was interested in studying Zuckerberg because so much of the way he thinks about privacy, information, and sharing will be reflected in the platform,” Zimmer said.
Using analysis software, Zimmer has pieced together common themes throughout Mark’s public declarations – namely, the task of Facebook to encourage sharing and openness. But what are the ethics underlying that task?
Zimmer says that the project’s ultimate goal is not to scrutinize Zuckerberg’s every word, but to give users the knowledge to manage their own information. And social media literacy depends upon knowing exactly what you’ve signed up for when you click that “agree to all terms and conditions” box.
Since its reveal, the site has gotten over 25,000 hits and more than fifty requests for personal access. To learn more, visit: www.zuckerbergfiles.org.