Washinton, D.C.’s attorney general is suing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the company’s misleading privacy policies and failure to protect user data.
The Washington Examiner reports:
“This lawsuit is not only warranted, but necessary,” Racine said. “Misleading consumers, exposing their data, and violating the law come with consequences, not only for companies that breach that trust, but also corporate executives.”
The lawsuit stems directly from an investigation that emerged in 2018 when whistleblower Christopher Wylie revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a Trump-aligned electioneering firm based in London, gained the personal data of more than 70 million Facebook users to influence the 2016 presidential election. Racine sued the company over the incident in 2018 but is now seeking to punish Zuckerberg personally.
The new lawsuit is based on hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that Racine’s staff did not have access to until it began its litigation in the Cambridge Analytica suit. These documents provide “extensive evidence that Zuckerberg was personally involved in failures that led to the Cambridge Analytica incident,” the attorney general said.
Racine is targeting Zuckerberg’s “unparalleled level of control over the operations of Facebook,” noting he “is personally involved in nearly every major decision the company makes,” according to the lawsuit. Through his position, the Meta CEO has tried to balance the line of convincing users its privacy practices are secure while selling as much of their data as possible without driving them away, the suit alleges.
Facebook was able to accomplish this by attempting to transform the internet into a “social-first” platform and urging users to reveal personal information and interests so that it can be monetized. According to the lawsuit the data was then obtained by Cambridge Analytica to influence users during the 2016 election.
The lawsuit marks the most recent move in a long string of attempts to hold the company accountable for manipulating users.