Sputnik: How exactly has the data of these 50 million American citizens been compromised?
Tianqing Zhu: This is an accident of data sharing. So as a user we submit our data to Facebook, and when we submit our data, we register it on Facebook and sign our agreement, or, tick our agreement, saying that we allow Facebook to share our data to other third parties. Cambridge Analytica is a third party. They ask for data from Facebook. So at the beginning it is legal, because they claimed that they wanted to do a research project about the psychological effects, something like that. It's legal. Facebook shared the data with them. However, they changed their target. Originally, they had said it was for research purposes, but later they misused the data, and tried to dig out the personal information from the data and created user profiles. These user — profiles were used later for the presidential election. I think that the word 'misusing' is the key point of this scandal.
Sputnik: Mark Zuckerberg has become something of an antihero — but was this not anticipated all along?
Tianqing Zhu: Mr. Zuckerberg has created a huge kingdom and changed the rules of the game of social networking. But with great power comes great responsibility. His company has collected a huge amount of data, so how to control, maintain and preserve privacy of personal related data is a big challenge. Actually this challenge is using the companies who are collecting our private data, including banks, hospitals, online shops, airlines and governments. Facebook is not an exception.
Sputnik: We give our data away with everything we do (driving licenses, card payments, loyalty cards), will deleting Facebook increase our data privacy, or is it more of symbolic action?
Tianqing Zhu: In my point of view, it is a symbolic action. Privacy leakage is everywhere nowadays. When we drive through toll gates, they can collect our travel habits. When we pay via credit card, the banks and supermarket collect all of our shopping habits. When we call our friends, the phone company collects our conversation habits. So also now there are people that have multiple accounts, on multiple social networks. Deleting a Facebook account will not do anything to improve our wall of privacy.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.