Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg found himself in front of Congress in April, after it was revealed that political data firm Cambridge Analytica obtained private user data from the social network. The fallout brought questions of data privacy and regulation to the forefront.

On April 19, three U-M faculty experts on social media, privacy, and social computing algorithms joined us on Twitter for a #UMichChat. The panel discussed what Facebook users should be thinking about in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and what steps the company and Congress might or should take.

Each professor brought a unique perspective to the conversation.

Their key takeaways from Zuckerberg’s testimony?  The general tech illiteracy of members of Congress; the differences in how Facebook views user controls vs. how people actually experience the control; and Zuckerberg’s admission that he doesn’t expect users to read the privacy policy and terms of service.



The professors also said that Facebook users should be concerned about how their data is handled, but noted that this isn’t just a Facebook problem.



So what should Facebook users do for now? Quitting the social network might be difficult for many, since, as Sandvic notes, it’s part of the infrastructure now. Schaub had some practical tips:


In a tweet that received a lot of attention, Lampe suggested that learning how to use social media, in general, is a societal, not an individual, issue and that schools might want to start paying attention.


Sandvig had an exchange about the limits of individual technical literacy with an alumna who joined the conversation.


On the question of when Congress should act on data privacy, and what it should not do, panelists and others responded with varying perspectives.


The chat had a reach of 278,273, and 39 people contributed with tweets and retweets.

Top tweets:










Join us May 25 for another #UMichChat, this time on Facebook Live for a discussion with U-M doctors on stroke prevention.