Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Enlarge Icon
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Credit: Flickr Photo/Alessio Jacona (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/EixX1V

Think data privacy is dead? Try replacing the word 'privacy' with 'consent'

"Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?"

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seemed taken aback by the question, but eventually stammered out a "No." That delivery was in marked contrast to the smooth admission that his data had been exposed to Cambridge Analytica, along with that of 87 million other Americans. Zuckerberg is the head of the world's most successful tech company - why does he seem to think about privacy differently if it's online?

Jen Golbeck is a professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, as well as the director of their Social Intelligence Lab. A self-described "privacy fundamentalist," she doesn't keep Facebook on her phone and eschews Siri and Alexa.

For her, the "privacy's dead; get over it" attitude grants sweeping powers to companies and governments to take things from you by force, without your permission, and sometimes even without your knowledge.

She argues that it's a consent issue – and that if we frame it that way, we're much more likely to question what we're giving up in the name of convenience.