Zuckerbot

Tech, Media, and Democracy
Prof. Justin Hendrix

 

Team Members:

Cherisha Agarwal
Michael Allen Fuller
Kellee D Massey
Joanna Molloy 
Joanna Yen


My role in the project was to write the code for the web application, allowing keywords in the questions to play videos that corresponded with keywords. 
 

Link to Final Prototype

Problem Statement: 

    The promise of the Internet as a global system of networks in which citizens of the world can freely communicate with one another and access and share information to improve society has been compromised.  Facebook is among the various platforms of social media using as a business model the collection of users’ private data to profile them and create likely targets for commercial advertising and paid political campaign pitches.  

 

Agents with political agendas were then able to disseminate propaganda and fake news stories to vulnerable social-media users.  A 2017 Pew Research Center study found that two-thirds of Americans got at least some of their news from social media.  As early as 2013, a company called Cambridge Analytica used the private data of 87 million Facebook users to influence 44 elections in the U.S. and the U.K., including the 2016 U.S. presidential election resulting in a victory for Donald Trump, and the U.K. “Brexit” election.
    
In his recent testimony before the U.S. Congress, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg argued that users voluntarily sign away their privacy rights.   Some of our team members feel that the founders of Facebook portrayed the platform as only a fun, free place for social interaction. Others believe that actually from the start, Facebook intended it as a profit-making platform based on the monetization of users’ data.

 

One problem is that many users do not read the fine print in Facebook’s privacy agreement, which is hundreds of words long and only has one check-mark at the end.  Many Facebook users are not aware that their political leanings, every one of their “likes,” their purchases, their contacts, and even the data of their friends can be mined by Facebook.   Another problem is that with the preponderance of fake news being disseminated, many citizens without professional journalism skills may not know how to factcheck an article and determine its validity.
    

Our goal is to raise awareness of citizens as to how our data is being collected and used by Facebook. How we have become targets of propaganda and untrue or incorrect news stories (fake news) and how to tell the difference from the truth (unfake news).

Project Concept:

The Great & Powerful ZUCK!

We will enlist the help of Mark Zuckerberg himself to raise awareness and educate people on the current problems with Facebook, by using his own statements, and mining words from those statements which will provide answers that will be more forthcoming than his Congressional testimony.  We will develop an Interactive website experience for users to ask Mark Zuckerberg any questions to gain a response. 

We will use his testimonial response clip in Adobe After Effects to create The Great & Powerful Zuck. We will then code an interactive Q+A session in which his answers to users’ questions will be more forthcoming and therefore more informative to those asking the questions.  We recognize the irony of toying with Mr. Zuckerberg’s words but we hope the result is to educate and perhaps, entertain.  

Final questions:
Was enough information given about Cambridge Analytica?
How much data does Facebook access?
Is Facebook a security threat? 
Are you the best person to lead Facebook?

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