Ethan Zuckerman, associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has announced his resignation after learning of the school's Media Lab involvement with the late, disgraced financier, Jeffrey Epstein.
In explaining his actions, Zuckerman took to his own blog online, on August 20th, to share, “My logic was simple: the work my group does focuses on social justice and the inclusion of marginalized individuals and points of view. It’s hard to do that work with a straight face in a place that violated its own values so clearly in working with Epstein and in disguising that relationship.”
At the center of Zuckerman’s decisions are the actions of MIT's media lab director Joi Ito. Zuckerman explains, “Joi told me... that the Media Lab’s ties to Epstein went much deeper, and included a business relationship between Joi and Epstein, investments in companies Joi’s VC fund was supporting, gifts and visits by Epstein to the Media Lab and by Joi to Epstein’s properties.
“As the scale of Joi’s involvement with Epstein became clear to me, I began to understand that I had to end my relationship with the MIT Media Lab,” says Zuckerman who also makes clear that he had no direct involvement with Epstein.
“I am not resigning because I had any involvement with Epstein,” he explains. “Joi asked me in 2014 if I wanted to meet Epstein, and I refused and urged him not to meet with him. We didn’t speak about Epstein again until last Friday... I told Joi that I planned to move my work out of the MIT Media Lab by the end of this academic year, May 2020."
Epstein was found dead in his New York federal detention facility of an apparent suicide earlier this month. He was awaiting trial on sex trafficking of minors and other charges.
Zuckerman directed the lab's Center for Civic Media as well as organized the center’s annual Disobedience Award, which was recently given to a MeToo Activist.