Michael Zimmer, PhD, is a privacy and data ethics scholar whose work focuses on digital privacy & surveillance, the ethics of big data, internet research ethics, and the broader social & ethical dimensions of emerging digital technologies.
Dr. Zimmer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he also serves as Director of the Center for Data, Ethics, and Society.
- Marquette University has launched a new Center for Data, Ethics, and Society to address the ethical, social and political dimensions of our increasingly data-driven society.
- Was fun to be included in the “Facebook Gets a Facelift” episode of the new season of Vox’s “Land of the Giants” podcast on Meta/Facebook.
- I am part of a team of experts helping Gizmodo release the “Facebook Papers” in a responsible and ethical way. Details at “We’re Making the Facebook Papers Public. Here’s Why and How“
- New appointment: I’ve recently been designated the ethics advisor for the European Commission-sponsored SPATIAL Project (Security and Privacy Accountable Technology Innovations, Algorithms, and Machine Learning)
- I was recently named one of Milwaukee’s “10 People to Know in Technology” by the Milwaukee Business Journal. I was also featured in a recent “People of ACM” column.
- Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team on PERVADE (Pervasive Data Ethics for Computational Research), a multi-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“.
- Dr. Jessica Vitak (University of Maryland) and I are also collaborating on various studies of smart home power users to understand their unique perspectives and privacy/security concerns and craft recommendations that could benefit the entire smart home ecosystem.
- 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 2004-2022. We currently have over 1,400 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! I also recently joined Mastodon.
- Participant: “Global University Summit for the Rome Call for AI Ethics” University of Notre Dame (November 2022)
- Organizer: “Data Collection for Internet Researchers under Data Protection Regimes” Invitation-only workshop co-organized with Institute of International and European Affairs and Meta, Dublin, Ireland (November 2022)
- Keynote Panelist: “Libraries and Privacy:Critical Issues for Information Professionals” Library 2.0 conference. San Jose State University (October 2022)
- Organizer: “Cybersecurity Awareness Month Symposium on Ethical Hacking” Marquette University (October 2022)
- Keynote: “Artificial Intelligence in Public Health Responses: Opportunities and Risks” The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in Health Care, MSOE/MCW (September 2022)
- Invited Speaker: “Ethical Challenges in Review of AI Research” Research Community Forum – New Frontiers in Human Subjects Research. OHRP/Indiana University (September 2022)
- Invited Participant: “Internet Studies Research Summit” CUNY Newmark School of Journalism, NYC (August 2022)
- Invited Panelist: “Artificial Intelligence and the Consumer Marketplace” Presidential Summit of the National Association of Attorneys General. Des Moines, IA. (August 2022)
- Invited Participant: Workshop on “Workshop on the Ethics of Field Experiments” Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University (July 2022)
- Invited Talk: “Ethical Considerations Related to Research on Social Media Data: Conceptual Gaps & Ways Forward” Hebrew University of Jerusalem (July 2022)
- Presentation: “Privacy and Power in a Pandemic: Examining Remote Workplace Surveillance Practices During COVID-19” Surveillance Studies Research Network. (June 2022)
- Organizer: “Research Ethics in HCI: A SIGCHI Community Discussion” CHI2022 (May 2022)
- Panelist: “When the Internet Surrounds Us: Inclusive Strategies to Enhance Privacy and Security in Smart Homes and Neighborhoods” UC-Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (February 2022)
Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda and I recently published “Internet Research Ethics for the Social Age: New Challenges, Cases, and Contexts“ with dozens of great contributors. A cc-licensed PDF is available here.
- Vitak, J., Liao, Y., Mols, A., Trottier, D., Zimmer, M., Kumar, P., & Pridmore, J. (2023). When Do Data Collection and Use Become a Matter of Concern? A Cross-Cultural Comparison of U.S. and Dutch Privacy Attitudes. International Journal Of Communication, 17, 471-498.
- Pater, J., Fiesler, C., & Zimmer, M. (2022). No Humans Here: Ethical Speculation on Public Data, Unintended Consequences, and the Limits of Institutional Review. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 6(GROUP), 1-13. [Honorable Mention: Best Paper Award]
- Zimmer, M. and Logan, S. (2021), Privacy concerns with using public data for suicide risk prediction algorithms: a public opinion survey of contextual appropriateness, Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society.
- Shilton, K., Moss, E., Gilbert, S. A., Bietz, M. J., Fiesler, C., Metcalf, J., Vitak, J., & Zimmer, M. (2021). Excavating awareness and power in data science: A manifesto for trustworthy pervasive data research. Big Data & Society.
- 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]