Washington’s top prosecutor has named Mark Zuckerberg as a defendant in a lawsuit against Facebook related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, potentially exposing the social media brainchild to financial penalties.
Attorney General Karl Racine said Wednesday that he added Zuckerberg to a lawsuit filed in 2018 after an ongoing investigation ‘revealed that he was personally involved in decisions related to Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s failure to protect user data.’
‘This lawsuit is about protecting the data of half of all District residents and tens of millions of people across the country,’ Racine tweeted.
‘We’ve taken our obligation to investigate wrongdoing very seriously - and Facebook should take its responsibility to protect users just as seriously.’
If found legally culpable, Zuckerberg could be fined up to $5,000 for any of the 300,000 district residents whose privacy might have been violated in the breach.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg (pictured in a file photo) was named October 20 in a lawsuit related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal
Washington Attorney General Karl Racine (shown in a file photo) filed the lawsuit, and said Zuckerberg was named because 'he was personally involved in decisions related to Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s failure to protect user data'
Zuckerberg is worth an estimated $122 billion.
Racine originally filed the lawsuit against Facebook in 2008 for allowing data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica to improperly access data from as many as 87 million users before the 2016 presidential election.
He alleged in the lawsuit that Facebook misled users about the security of their data and failed to properly monitor third-party apps.
The suit came after Cambridge University's Aleksandr Kogan and his company, Global Science Research (GSR), launched an app called 'thisisyourdigitallife' and sold personal information of users to a political consulting firm.
Since the original filing, Racine said his team has ‘reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of documents produced in litigation and completed a wide range of depositions including former employees and whistleblowers.’
The attorney general originally said that the information of about 70 million Americans was collected on the app, including about 340,000 D.C. residents.
Racine said on Twitter that the lawsuit was about protecting Facebook users' personal data
Aleksandr Kogan developed an app that allowed Cambridge Analytica to collect personal details of 80 million Facebook users
The app was promoted as a personality quiz, which claimed to generate a personality profile.
Racine claimed in the suit that only 860 downloaded the quiz yet many more were put at risk with the sharing of their private information.
The lawsuit is the latest blow for Zuckerberg, who was taunted Tuesday after announcing plans to change Facebooks names amidst a storm of scandals.
U.S. officials announced on Monday that Facebook Inc agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle civil claims by the government that the company discriminated against American workers and violated federal recruitment rules.
On Tuesday, the company was fined £50.5 million ($70 million) after failing to provide enough important information to the competition regulator investigating the firm's takeover of GIF sharing platform Giphy.
Earlier this month, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen revealed herself as the whistleblower who anonymously filed eight complaints about the social media giant with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
‘Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety,’ she said in a 60 minutes interview.
The latest blow Zuckerberg's social media empire came after former Facebook employee Frances Haugen came forward with claims the company 'chooses profits over safety'
She claimed that a 2018 change prioritizing divisive posts, which made Facebook users argue, was found to boost user engagement.
It helped bosses sell more online ads that have seen the social media giant's value pass $1 trillion.
She also claimed Facebook helped instigate the January 6 Capitol riots.
Some social media users on Wednesday celebrated news that Zuckerberg could be held accountable for the Cambridge Analytical scandal.
‘Thank you,’ said one Twitter user. ‘It's shocking no one is being held accountable in these companies for using psychometric marketing targeting people based on their private online user data across platforms without our knowledge or consent. It's reported it affected elections in over 100 countries.’
Added another: ‘Too bad there are no criminal charges.’