Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook parent co Meta, was sued by Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine on Monday for for failing to protect millions of users’ data and having bewildering privacy practices, reports the Washington Post.
“This unprecedented security breach exposed tens of millions of Americans’ personal information, and Mr. Zuckerberg’s policies enabled a multi-year effort to mislead users about the extent of Facebook’s wrongful conduct,” Racine said in a news release. “This lawsuit is not only warranted, but necessary, and sends a message that corporate leaders, including CEOs, will be held accountable for their actions.”
The suit says that Zuckerberg engaged in decision-making processes that allowed Trump-linked political consultancy group Cambridge Analytica and other third parties to glean the personal data of 87 million users. Racine wants to fine Zuckerberg personally over his role in the scandal.
The suit focuses on what Racine considers Zuckerberg’s almost certain role in the decisions that led to the data breach, given the platform co-founder’s “unparalleled level of control over the operations of Facebook” and noting that he controls almost 60 per cent of the company’s voting shares and is involved in major company decisions.
Racine’s office has a wealth of new information to work with “based on hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that his staff did not have access to until litigation during the Cambridge Analytica suit, including depositions of Facebook employees and other whistleblowers,” reports the Post.
The lawsuit contends that the Cambridge Analytica affair occurred due to Zuckerberg’s idea to open Facebook’s platform to third-party developers, and that he was well aware of the potential damage that could result from sharing user data but did nothing to prevent such negative effects from happening.
In one email discussing data leakage, Zuckerberg wrote “there is clear risk on the advertiser side,” according to the lawsuit.
In 2019, Facebook came to a staggering $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for violating consumer privacy. Still, Zuckerberg was not held directly liable and was never directly questioned in that investigation regarding what he knew about the company’s mistakes.
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