Zuckerberg Files Tracks Everything Uttered By The Facebook CEO
October 29, 2013

Zuckerberg Files Tracks Everything Uttered By The Facebook CEO

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

As the co-founder and creator of one of the largest and most successful websites in human history, Mark Zuckerberg is an important figure.

The CEO of Facebook, a social network that is almost constantly embroiled in some sort of privacy scandal, also has a tendency to speak candidly about the company's encroaching policies. For instance, in the early days of Facebook, Zuckerberg had some unflattering things to say about the users who trusted Facebook with their most private and personal information.

Now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is listening carefully to everything Zuckerberg says and is cataloging it in what the University is calling the “Zuckerberg Files,” an online repository of transcripts and videos of every public appearance by the Facebook CEO. The school says the aim of the Zuckerberg files is to keep both the CEO and his network accountable for what they say and do, as well as document the changes of the social network which has already had a significant impact on today’s society and culture.

“The dominance of social networking sites, such as Facebook, in contemporary life sparks unique issues of information privacy and the ethics of sharing online,” reads the website. “By gaining a better understanding of how Facebook’s founder and CEO conceives of his own company’s role in the policy and ethical debates surrounding social networking, we will be better suited to critically engage in a dialogue on privacy and Facebook, inform design and policy recommendations, and increase user awareness and literacy.”

The Zuckerberg Files are split into two categories: text transcripts of interviews he’s given with news publications, commencement speeches and the like; and videos of these public appearances. While the public can view portions of these text documents and videos, full-text access is limited to “scholars doing research in a relevant area.” The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers say they do this to adhere to their Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication, and they’re allowing “scholars” to apply for a login account.

So far, the Zuckerberg Files contain over 100 transcripts of public appearances (some of which are links to other sites) and nearly 50 videos in its archive. Michael Zimmer, an assistant professor in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee created the site and claims Zuckerberg’s clout in technology makes him all the more important to understand and study.

“I think Zuckerberg is important because he is Facebook,” Zimmer said in an interview with Ars Technica. “That’s why I want to get a better understanding of him. As long as I have access to some students willing to listen to Zuckerberg, we’ll keep going. It’s like a presidential library, where you try to capture every word that JFK ever said. That’s what we’re trying to do here."

Zuckerberg has been known to shy away from the public spotlight in the past, but now with Zimmer carefully transcribing every word he says, it’s likely the Facebook head will be much more careful with what he says.