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Washington Sues Mark Zuckerberg Over Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Priscilla Chan

Mark Zuckerberg Priscilla Chan and kids Instagram

Should Mark Zuckerberg be held personally responsible for the whole scandal a few years back surrounding the violation of the privacy of numerous Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica? Well, the Washington D.C. Attorney General seems to think so.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg in which he alleges that the Facebook owner should be held responsible for not protecting the personal data belonging to Facebook users. The suit asserts that Zuckerberg was well aware of the risks to personal data held by Facebook and did not do anything to protect it. This, if true, would be in keeping with a pattern revealed recently by a Facebook whistleblower. That whistleblower revealed to the U.S. Congress that the company knew about various threats to the mental welfare of youth cause by Instagram that it owns.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in 2018 when one of the company’s employees revealed to the press what it had done. In 2019 Facebook was fined $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission for violating its users’ privacy?

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And what exactly was it that Cambridge Analytica did? It harvested personal data from millions of Facebook users without their consent. The data was then used by Cambridge Analytica to create psychographic profiles of the people whose privacy had been violated.

This was then used for things like political campaigns. For example, a campaign, each profile’s information suggested what type of advertisement would be most effective to persuade individuals on specific issues and political campaigns.

And this is what happened in 2016. People were sent news feeds that were in keeping with their political biases, regardless of the truth. So someone thought to be more conservative – a likely Trump supporter – would see more and more feeds about how Hillary Clinton was involved in a pedophile ring and so forth. Since then, Facebook was forced to implement new policies to block fake news from people’s news feeds.

“The evidence shows Mr. Zuckerberg was personally involved in Facebook’s failure to protect the privacy and data of its users leading directly to the Cambridge Analytica incident,” Karl Racine said in a statement. “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. This lawsuit is not only warranted, but necessary, and sends a message that corporate leaders, including CEOs, will be held accountable for their actions.”

Ultimately, it will be up to a court of law to determine what, if any, responsibility Mark Zuckerberg personally holds for what happened. And a judge can dismiss the case before it ever gets to a jury.

Meta has not yet responded officially to the suit.



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