Karl Racine adds Mark Zuckerberg to Cambridge Analytica case



The District of Columbia attorney general announced he was appointing Mark Zuckerberg as a defendant in the district’s lawsuit against Facebook.

Karl Racine made the announcement on Wednesday, saying Zuckerberg was aware of the decisions that led to the exposure of Facebook user data.

“Based on the evidence we have gathered in this case over the past two years and the district investigation more generally, it is clear that Mr. Zuckerberg knowingly and actively participated in every decision that led to the collection. massive amount of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica and misrepresentation by Facebook. users about the security of their data, ”Racine said in a statement to Law & Crime. “The evidence further shows that Mr. Zuckerberg also participated in misleading the public and government officials about the role of Facebook. Under these circumstances, Mr. Zuckerberg should be held accountable for his involvement in the decisions that allowed the data of millions of users to be exposed – and that’s why we’re adding him to our complaint.

“Protect the data of half of the inhabitants of the district”

This is the first time that a US regulator, including an attorney general’s office, has specifically named Zuckerberg in a complaint, according to Racine’s office.

“My office filed our complaint in 2018, and since then we have reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of litigation material and made a wide variety of depositions, including from former employees and whistleblowers.” Racine said on Twitter. “This lawsuit aims to protect the data of half of all residents of the district and tens of millions of people across the country. We have taken our obligation to investigate wrongdoing very seriously, and Facebook should take its responsibility to protect users just as seriously.

“These allegations are as unfounded today as they were over three years ago when the district filed its complaint,” a Facebook company spokesperson told Law & Crime in an email. “We will continue to defend ourselves vigorously and focus on the facts. “

Racine’s effort to add Zuckerberg as a defendant is “one of the first efforts of a regulator to expose him personally to possible financial and other penalties.” New York Times reported.

Racine sued Facebook in 2018, accusing the social media giant of failing to protect the privacy of tens of millions of users, including more than 340,000 DC residents, and of misleading them about the real security of their data.

“A relentless corporate giant”

According to the lawsuit, Facebook allowed users’ data to be sold to Cambridge Analytica, a London-based consulting firm, without their knowledge and consent. The company also reportedly misled users about the security of their data and failed to mitigate the damage once it discovered the data had been mis-sold.

The first proposed amended complaint – included as an exhibit to the Attorney General’s motion to add Zuckerberg as a defendant – now begins with an epic tale of Facebook’s meteoric rise.

“In less than two decades, Facebook has grown from a small online social network to a relentless corporate giant, bigger than any country, with over 2.9 billion monthly active users. nearly half of the world’s population, “the amended complaint says. “To put that into perspective, Facebook has more users than the populations of the United States, China and Brazil combined. And Facebook has become richer than more than 150 countries in the world, including Switzerland, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.

For Racine, Facebook’s construction of a more “sticky” platform – in terms of user retention – has had toxic repercussions.

“What this means is that the more Zuckerberg’s Facebook fuels division and polarization, destabilizes democracies, amplifies genocides and affects the mental health of users, the more money Facebook and its leaders make,” the complaint states. modified.

The London-based consulting firm hired by Donald trump2016 campaign, famous used so-called “personality quizzes” to collect the data.

Robert mercer, a wealthy Republican donor, donated $ 15 million to Cambridge Analytica, which was ultimately hired by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

As reported speak New York Times in 2018, the company collected private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, a statistic the paper attributes to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents.

“More than half of the total votes in the 2016 presidential elections”

Deeming an even broader violation, Racine’s amended complaint directly accused Zuckerberg of facilitating election interference.

“In other words, and this cannot be overstated, Cambridge Analytica used Facebook’s platform – in a way encouraged by Facebook and Zuckerberg – to influence and manipulate the outcome of a US presidential election,” indicates the amended complaint. “The personal data of over 70 million Americans. Facebook users that Cambridge Analytica used to manipulate the election accounted for more than half of the total vote in the 2016 presidential election, in an election that was only effectively decided by a few hundred thousand people. people.

The scandal had major fallout for Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

Cambridge Analytica closed under a cloud of controversy in May 2018.

Zuckerburg testified before Congress in April 2018 about the privacy breach, and in July 2019, the Federal Trade Commission imposed a $ 5 billion fine on Facebook – the largest ever imposed on a company for breaching consumer privacy – for “deceiving users about their ability to control the privacy of their personal information.”

Racine describes Zuckerberg’s condemnation as insincere.

“While Facebook three years later publicly condemned Cambridge Analytica’s data collection, its condemnation, in reality, only demonstrates that what Zuckerberg and Facebook are saying publicly is part of an intentional plan to mask the devastating consequences of their actions (or inactions) ”, states the amended complaint.

As a defendant in the DC case, Zuckerberg could face financial penalties, including up to $ 5,000 for one of the district residents who may have been affected by the Cambridge data privacy breach. Analytica, the Times reported.

You can read the motion to add Zuckerberg as a defendant and the district’s amended complaint below.

[Images via Karl Racine/Paul Marotta and Getty Images]

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