In the wake of Mark Zuckerberg's April 10 testimony before Congress, University of Michigan experts are available to comment on its implications for policy, data science, privacy, social media responsibility, Facebook's need for a new funding model, and more.
Christian Sandvig, professor of information and communication studies, specializes in the design of internet infrastructure and social computing. His current research focuses on human and machine co-curation and filtering of information and culture. Recently his research group developed "algorithm audit" strategies that aim to improve transparency, fairness and accountability for online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google.
"Zuckerberg's claim that the Kogan/Cambridge Analytica app took information from people 'whose privacy settings allowed it' seems a bridge too far," he said.
More of his comments on the Social Media Collective.
Paul Resnick, the Michael D. Cohen Collegiate Professor of Information chairs the Center for Social Media Responsibility and is associate dean for research and faculty affairs at the School of Information. Among his research interests, Resnick has studied how people determine if the information they are reading through emails, blogs and social media is credible. He co-authored the book "Building Successful Online Communities: Evidence-Based Social Design."
"From the first hour, the thing that struck me is that Zuckerberg says they are changing their sense of what they are responsible for. Whereas they used to think they were responsible only for providing tools, they now think they have responsibility for making sure that the tools are used for good," Resnick said.
"From the perspective of our Center for Social Media Responsibility, this is a welcome change. However, society won't want Facebook employees to be the decider of what is good and bad. So, the challenge will be for Facebook to organize partnerships where the public at large gets a say in what counts as good or bad. Facebook would then take some responsibility for amplifying the things that the public deems good, and dampening the things that the public deems bad."
Florian Schaub is assistant professor of information and of electrical engineering and computer science. He studies privacy, human-computer interaction, mobile and ubiquitous computing, and the Internet of Things.
"Facebook should be much more transparent about how third parties access user data rather than only focusing on 'apps you allowed to access your data,'" he said. "For instance, Facebook could ask individual users to explicitly confirm a request from an external party for their data and showing them examples of what information a specific app or third party will get.
"Rather than having complex privacy settings which no one ever looks at, Facebook should continue to better integrate both privacy information and privacy controls into the Facebook feed. Our research shows that making people aware of potentially unexpected data practices when they occur and making it easy for them to change their settings in that moment results in better and more accurate privacy settings."
Garlin Gilchrist is the executive director of the new School of Information Center for Social Media Responsibility. The center will make U-M research usable to media makers, media consumers and platform companies, and will produce designs, systems and metrics that aim to steer social media use toward more civil and beneficial discourse.