University professor’s film explores Zuckerberg’s persona


Photo courtesy of Tribune News Network

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the Senate judiciary and commerce committees on Capitol Hill over social media data breach on April 10 in Washington, D.C. A new film by a University professor analyzes Zuckerberg’s changing public persona.

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

In his new film “Order of Magnitude,” Benjamin Grosser, professor in FAA, explores the change in Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s public persona over the years, as well as Silicon Valley’s obsession with growth.

The 47-minute film is a supercut compilation of approximately 400 clips of Zuckerberg between 2004 and 2018, from keynote speeches at Facebook to news interviews.

For the film, Grosser analyzed every time Zuckerberg publicly used the terms “more,” “grow” or any time he has referred to a numerical metric and compiled them into a single video. 

Michael Zimmer, curator of the Zuckerberg Files, said in an email that the idea of creating the archives rose from a conversation he had with some colleagues at the 2010 Association of Internet Researchers conference in Gothenburg, Sweden. 

“I had just completed a presentation on how Facebook conceives of user privacy, and we starting thinking about how it would be great to be able to map out the history of how Zuckerberg talks about privacy,” Zimmer said. “That led me to start thinking about collecting all of his speeches and presentations so we could analyze his discourse. So, that’s what I started to do.”

Zimmer was not involved directly in the film but said Grosser was granted access to the Zuckerberg Files and downloaded their archival material to produce his film. 

Grosser observed that, over the 14-year time period which the film draws from, Zuckerberg’s behavior went from that of a somewhat less prepared 19-year-old to a more defensive disposition as he became a billionaire and seasoned tech CEO.

“I hope students will think critically on how platforms like Facebook seem to focus on growth and profitability at the potential sacrifice of privacy, safety or civility,” Zimmer said. 

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