Facebook fiasco raises issue of data safety

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/22 23:57:17

The West has recently been shocked by the scandal that London-based Cambridge Analytica harvested data from more than 50 million Facebook accounts to swing the 2016 US presidential election. The European Commission said in a statement that the misuse for political purposes of Facebook users' personal data - if confirmed - "is not acceptable." The European Parliament and UK Parliament have demanded an explanation from Facebook. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for data leaks.

In 2016, then presidential candidate Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton through his popularity on the internet, though fiercely attacked by the mainstream media. This gave the impression that social media, represented by Facebook and Twitter, can be more influential than the entire traditional US media. The Facebook scandal lately revealed more about the internet.

The rapidly developing internet is unfathomable. Online discussions can affect public opinion by technical means, making the relationship between virtual and real world malleable. The internet is becoming a key political resource.

Europe is in particular panic-stricken. Probably because US internet giants have largely occupied the European market and so the US has been able to affect European public opinion more than before.

Zuckerberg's promises to protect users' information won't come to much. As technologies progress quickly, Facebook can't prevent others from casting eyes on its users. In other words, Facebook is incapable of building an internet order that satisfies all countries.

Governments need to be part of internet management and risk prevention and control. Otherwise, the internet will continue developing unconstrained, with political risks piling up.

Debate on the Facebook scandal will likely end up with nothing. Fining Facebook into bankruptcy would not be going too far, but educating it and a little symbolic fine would also be acceptable. 

While the Facebook scandal is regarded by traditional media as a laughing stock, the internet is no joke. With huge loopholes and uncertainties, the internet will continue to change the world and people's understanding.

China has made tremendous efforts over internet supervision with fruitful results. The rampant disorder and anarchy on the internet has been reined in. Relevant laws are being made and national core values are being applied online. China's internet governance will have to keep pace with internet development. Getting high scores in this respect will be a long-term and arduous task.

China also faces risks in protecting personal information of internet users and its current achievements came through strong management. It's worth exploring how real-world positivity can become influential on the internet so as to promote internet governance. The next major steps for China are to ensure internet users' information is well protected, reduce the internet watchdog's reliance on mandatory measures such as deleting posts and enable the internet to keep order by itself.

The internet must be simultaneously safe and vibrant. It has played a considerably positive role in China's development and brought much impetus. It is hoped this will be strengthened.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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