The Facebook scandal goes far beyond the lack of privacy, says Silicon Valley insider Hugh Dubberly. To tame the tech group could only Europe.

An interview of Hugh Dubberly:

Hugh Dubberly has been with Silicon Valley for more than 30 years he was responsible for the design of the early Apple products and designed the Netscape Internet browser. Today he advises with his own agency including Google, Amazon and Facebook.

Interviewer: Mr Dubberly, Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook on Wednesday : “It’s our responsibility to protect your data, and if we can not, we will not deserve to serve you.” So: does Facebook still deserve to serve us ? Or what has to happen so that they can earn it again?

Hugh Dubberly: I would like to expand the question and talk about the dangers being greater than people realize so far. At the moment, the press is focusing on having a university researcher in the UK take data and forward it to Cambridge Analytica has, in violation of Facebook’s terms and conditions. That alone is bad enough, but we have to see that in the larger context of the American elections, the Brexit, the German, French and Italian elections. And look at the links between Facebook and other players like the Russian Internet Research Agency in Saint Petersburg. In the case of the US election, Facebook sent employees to the Giles-Parscale office. This was the online agency of the Trump campaign team.

Interviewer: Did Facebook also work with the Clinton team?

Dubberly: No. Apparently they offered it, but it did not happen.

Interviewer: What was the service – do we know that?

Dubberly: That’s the question. What we do know is that Giles-Parscale has worked with Cambridge Analytica. And that the Facebook data has landed at Cambridge Analytica. We also know that the Russians have bought ads on Facebook. Where did the Russians get the personal data about Americans in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan …

 

Interviewer: … with which they, it is said, wanted to address black voters, to keep them from voting.

Dubberly: Do you think the Russians came up with this data? Cambridge Analytica is an organization whose methods are based on scientific psychography. And their CEO told a British Channel 4 reported that they were using all sorts of extraordinary resources to spread their message.

 

Interviewer: He has now lost his job, is no longer managing director.

Dubberly: But the question is, how much did Facebook hear about? And how much did Mark Zuckerberg understand? After that, the press does not ask. This goes far beyond the privacy. It raises the question of high treason and the responsibility for it. Allowing a foreign power to interfere in the US election is high treason.

Interviewer: And this charge you extend to the Trump team and on Facebook?

Dubberly: Yes. Who gave the target group data to the Russians who used it to buy Facebook ads?

 

Interviewer: Before the issue with the Russian interference came out, Facebook always said: We are a neutral platform, not a media organization. We only provide the infrastructure for people to interact with their friends. Then one revelation came after the other. And on January 4, Zuckerberg said, “Oh yeah, that was bad, but now we’re going to improve the user experience, even if we lose money.” Did they really start so naively and only now see what they have built? Or are they hiding something from us?

Dubberly: I only see what others can see from the outside. Zuckerberg has built Facebook as a student. And from there it developed, it became much more complicated. Facebook earns billions with ads. I’ve seen reports that they got eight-figure sums from Trump’s campaign team. Someone had to see what was going on there. Or maybe it was just as the people of Cambridge Analytica just said: Maybe you just have not asked the questions you did not want answers to.

 

Interviewer: What would be the regulation and control of such huge companies like Facebook in an ideal world? We live in capitalism and will not turn it into public institutions.

Dubberly: We have to think about our relationship with these huge service providers, whether it’s search engines, social networks, or any of the other big aggregators of knowledge in the network. In a sense, they become as important as the services we traditionally see as public services, such as electricity, gas and water. They are monopolies in the economic sense. And one can argue that if we let them be monopolies, we should regulate them accordingly.