Jennifer Cobbe is the coordinator of Cambridge University’s Trustworthy Technologies research initiative. She researches and writes on law, technology, and society.

Follow Jennifer Cobbe on Twitter: @jennifercobbe.


Reining in Big Data’s Robber Barons

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg appearing before a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., April 10, 2018

When Mark Zuckerberg talks about connecting people, as he often does, he leaves two words unsaid: “to Facebook.” For all his talk of community and connectedness, Facebook doesn’t seek to breed social connection and genuine friendship. Facebook makes its money from advertising, so what it wants  is for you to keep browsing, scrolling, and clicking on Facebook—and surrender the minutiae of your life to its databases and its algorithms. To achieve this, it has to position itself as the hub of your social life, the mediator of your reality.