A hot potato: It's been years since the biggest scandal in Facebook's history was exposed: Cambridge Analytica. But the effects are still being felt today. Washington DC's attorney general Karl A. Racine has sued Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg over the incident, holding the CEO personally liable for his role in what happened.
As a reminder, 50 million Facebook users' profiles were harvested by data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica without permission. It was used to build profiles on US voters and target them with personalized political ads during the 2016 election race in an attempt to help Donald Trump win the presidency.
Racine's lawsuit alleges that Zuckerberg was personally involved in failures that led to the Cambridge Analytica incident, and that his "policies enabled a multi-year effort to mislead users about the extent of Facebook's wrongful conduct." It adds that the scandal was a result of Zuckerberg wanting to open Facebook up to third-party developers and that he was aware of the associated risks of data leaks.
"This lawsuit is not only warranted, but necessary," Racine tweeted. "Misleading consumers, exposing their data, and violating the law come with consequences, not only for companies that breach that trust, but also corporate executives."
This lawsuit is not only warranted, but necessary. Misleading consumers, exposing their data, and violating the law come with consequences, not only for companies that breach that trust, but also corporate executives.— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) May 23, 2022
Read the complaint: https://t.co/nLYgPXAu4M
Racine previously sued Facebook in 2018 over its data practices. That case is still ongoing, but The Washington Post reports that the Attorney General's attempt to add Zuckerberg as a defendant was dismissed in March as Racine had reportedly waited too long to add him to the suit.
Racine's office said the new lawsuit is based on hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that his staff did not have access to until litigation during the Cambridge Analytica suit, writes the WP.
In July 2019, Facebook reached a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for violating users' privacy. What amounted to a slap on the wrist for the company resulted in its stock price rising almost 2%, adding over $10 billion to Facebook's then market cap.