Michael Zimmer, PhD, is a privacy and data ethics scholar whose work focuses on digital privacy & surveillance, internet research ethics, and the broader social & ethical dimensions of emerging technologies.
Dr. Zimmer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Marquette University.
- Our new paper “Studying Reddit: A Systematic Overview of Disciplines, Approaches, Methods, and Ethics” has been published in Social Media + Society.
- I contributed to the Pew Research Center’s recent reports “Experts Say the ‘New Normal’ in 2025 Will Be Far More Tech-Driven, Presenting More Big Challenges” and “Experts Doubt Ethical AI Design Will Be Broadly Adopted as the Norm Within the Next Decade”
- I commented on the Mole video spying app for Experience Magazine.
- I was recently featured in “People of ACM”.
- Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team on PERVADE (Pervasive Data Ethics for Computational Research), a 4-year research project funded by a $3 million LARGE grant from the NSF to study how diverse stakeholders – big data researchers, platforms, regulators, and user communities – understand their ethical obligations and choices related to computational research that relies on big, pervasive data sets about people.
- Collaborating with Dr. Jessica Vitak (University of Maryland) on the SSRC Rapid-Response Grants on Covid-19 and the Social Sciences funded project “How Covid-19 Is Changing Workplace Surveillance: American Workers’ Experiences and Privacy Expectations When Working from Home“.
- AAAS-funded project “Public Opinion Research on Artificial Intelligence in Public Health Responses,” in collaboration with Dr. Praveen Madiraju (MU) and Dr. Zeno Franco (Medical College of Wisconsin).
- Working with Dr. Jordan Smoller (Harvard) and the SmollerLab team on NIMH-funded efforts to ethically utilize machine learning methods, integrate multiple data sources, and apply natural language processing approaches for suicide risk prediction.
- Curation of The Zuckerberg Files, a digital archive of all public utterances of Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, spanning 2004-2020. We currently have over 1,200 transcript files and over 200 videos archived for researchers.
- Co-editor of the “Information Society” book series at MIT Press (with Laura DeNardis).
- Various other fun projects with students and other collaborators. Too many to mention, but all exciting!
- The Association of Internet Researchers recently published “Internet Research: Ethical Guidelines 3.0” which I co-authored with an amazing group of colleagues. I remain a co-chair of AoIR’s Ethics Working Group.
- I recently served on the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s Data Privacy and Security Advisory Committee, convened to evaluate the existing state of data privacy and security regulation in Wisconsin and its impact on consumers. Our report is available here.
- Collaborated with Dr. Jessica Vitak (University of Maryland) and Drs. Jason Pridmore and Daniel Trottier (Erasmus University) on the NSF-funded project “Mapping Privacy and Surveillance Dynamics in Emerging Mobile Ecosystems: Practices and Contexts in the Netherlands and US“. Most of our publications are available here.
- Organizer: Tutorial on “Engaging the Ethics of “Public” Data in Social Media Research” ICWSM 2021 (June 2021)
- Invited Participant: “Establishing the Roadmap for Security, Privacy, and Ethics in Health and Biomedical Research” sponsored by NSF-NIH (May 2021)
- Keynote: “The Challenge of Training in Big Data Ethics: Why is it Hard?” at Expanding Graduate Training in RCR: Big Data Ethics, University of Maryland (April 2021)
- Guest Speaker: “Data Ethics During a Pandemic“ University of Michigan Interactive and Social Computing (MISC) Research Group (April 2021)
- Panelist: “So You Want to Be a Tech Ethicist (No Scrubs edition)“, MozFest 2021 (March 2021)
- Organizer: Tutorial on “A Crash Course in Motivating, Supporting, and Expanding Ethical Thinking in the Tech Classroom“ ACM FAccT 2021 (March 2021)
- Panelist: “Algorithmic Bias: Sources and Responses“, Technology Ethics Center, University of Notre Dame (November 2020)
- Plenary panel: “The Future of Home, Office, School in the Age of Pandemic“, IEEE SERVICES (October 2020)
- Panelist: “COVID-19, Contact Tracing, and Privacy as Contextual Integrity“, Virtual Contextual Integrity Town Hall (September 2020)
- Invited Workshop on “Ethics in Cybersecurity” funded by Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship Program (July-August, 2020)
- Panelist: “Privacy after pandemic: Emerging directions in privacy research“, Comparative Privacy Research Network (June 2020)
- Organizer: Workshop on “Data is People“ ICWSM 2020 (June 2020)
- Keynote address: “Annual Research Ethics Day Conference” University of Minnesota (March 2020)
- Proferes, N., Jones, N., Gilbert, S., Fiesler, C., & Zimmer, M. (2021). Studying Reddit: A Systematic Overview of Disciplines, Approaches, Methods, and Ethics. Social Media + Society.
- Reuter, K., Deodhar, A., Makri, S., Zimmer, M., Berenbaum, F., Nikiphorou, xE. (2021). COVID-19 pandemic impact on people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases: Insights from patient-generated health data on social media. Rheumatology.
- Buchanan, E.A., & Zimmer, M. (2021). Internet research ethics (revised). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
- Hargittai, E., Redmiles, E. M., Vitak, J., & Zimmer, M. (2020). Americans’ willingness to adopt a COVID-19 tracking app. First Monday, 25(11).
- Vitak, J., & Zimmer, M. (2020). More Than Just Privacy: Using Contextual Integrity to Evaluate the Long-Term Risks from COVID-19 Surveillance Technologies. Social Media + Society.
- Wu, P., Vitak, J., & Zimmer, M. (2020). A Contextual Approach to Information Privacy Research. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 71(4). 485-490.
- Zimmer, M., Kumar, P., Vitak, J., Liao, Y., & Chamberlain Kritikos, K. (2020). ‘There’s Nothing Really They Can Do with This Information’: Unpacking How Users Manage Privacy Boundaries for Personal Fitness Information. Information, Communication & Society 23(7), 1020–1037.
- Chu, K. H., Colditz, J., Sidani, J., Zimmer, M., & Primack, B. (2019). Re-evaluating standards of human subjects protection for sensitive health data in social media networks. Social Networks.
- Reuter ,K., Zhu, Y., Angyan, P., Le, N., Merchant, A., Zimmer, M. (2019). Public Concern About Monitoring Twitter Users and Their Conversations to Recruit for Clinical Trials: Survey Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(10). [Winner: Best Paper for International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) Yearbook of Medical Informatics, Section on Consumer Health Informatics and Education]
- Pridmore, J., Zimmer, M., Vitak, J., Mols, A., Trottier, D., Kumar, P., & Liao, Y. (2019). Intelligent Personal Assistants and the Intercultural Negotiations of Dataveillance in Platformed Households. Surveillance & Society, 17(1/2), 125-131.
- Liao, Y., Vitak, J., Kumar, P., Zimmer, M., & Kritikos, K. (2019). Understanding the Role of Privacy and Trust in Intelligent Personal Assistant Adoption. In Proceedings of the 14th Annual iConference, Lecture Notes in Computer Science (iConference) (pp. 102-113). [Winner: Lee Dirks Best Paper Award]