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.
- 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 interviewed for the Medical Ethics Advisor newsletter on how “IRBs Face Unique Ethics Questions About Big Data Research“
- New paper published based on work completed during Marquette’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): Data Science Across Disciplines: Privacy concerns with using public data for suicide risk prediction algorithms: a public opinion survey of contextual appropriateness,
- New paper from the PERVADE project: “Excavating awareness and power in data science: A manifesto for trustworthy pervasive data research” in Big Data & Society
- New report: “Public Opinion Research on Artificial Intelligence in Public Health Responses: Results of Focus Groups With Four Communities” was published by the AAAS.
- 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 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“.
- 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 2004-2021. 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!
- 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). Our final report is available here.
- 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.
- Dr. 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 free PDF is available here.
- Invited Participant: “Ethical considerations in the use of big data, AI, and real-time information for prediction of behavioral health outcomes” Exploratory Seminar at Harvard Radcliffe Institute (January 2022)
- Invited Speaker: Workshop on Workshop on “Ethical Implications for Online Research” organized by, American Public Health Association (APHA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) (November 2021)
- Organizer: Workshop on “Designing for Data Awareness: Addressing Privacy and Security Concerns About “Smart” Technologies” CSCW 2021 (October 2021)
- 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)
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 free PDF is available here.
- 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]