SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook co-founder and current CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he and his wife are going to donate 99 percent of users’ personal data to charitable causes.
The couple is estimated to be worth trillions of individual data points that include your age, preferences, employer, places of residence, alma mater and political affiliations, among others.
Throughout the years, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have repeatedly stated that no one should accumulate such a vast trove of information, store it in a server farm in the Arctic, and merely sit on it until it becomes outdated and useless.
“People who collect such an ungodly amount of information about billions of people have a moral obligation to share that data with the less fortunate,” Zuckerberg said in an interview on Tuesday.
A non-profit who received data wouldn’t have to limit itself to using the information for targeted mailings, Zuckerberg says. A mountain gorilla conservation group, for example, could find out which Facebook users in the area earn high incomes, have travelled to Africa, like “Gorillas in the Mist,” and list environmental conservation as one of their interests.
Then, using profile photos to guide them, volunteers from the organization could dress up in gorilla costumes and follow and harass Facebook users who fit the criteria until a large enough donation is given.
Zuckerberg and Chan’s public vow is a clear sign of the ever-growing Silicon Valley trend of data philanthropy. In 2014, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page donated 60 terabytes of search history data to a school for former child soldiers in Sierra Leone.