Monday, the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, attempting to make him personally accountable for the Cambridge Analytica affair, a violation of privacy involving the personal information of millions of Facebook users that became a significant corporate and political issue.
In D.C. Superior Court, Attorney General Karl Racine filed a civil complaint against Zuckerberg. The lawsuit asserts that Zuckerberg directly participated in crucial company decisions and was aware of the potential risks of sharing user data, such as in the Cambridge Analytica case.
Cambridge Analytica improperly collected information on as many as 87 million Facebook users. Their report was allegedly utilized to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The lawsuit states that Zuckerberg, who co-founded Facebook and has led its board since 2012, controls more than fifty percent of Facebook's voting shares and maintains an unprecedented influence over the operations of the world's largest social media firm. The social network has approximately three billion users globally, and Meta's market capitalization exceeds $500 billion.
Racine is suing Zuckerberg for damages and penalties as determined by a trial.
Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Meta Platforms, declined to comment. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Meta, the parent company, have their headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
In recent years, both federal regulators and the state attorneys general have filed legal cases against Meta, Google, Amazon, and Apple, charging them with market domination and abuse. However, Racine's lawsuit marked a rare instance of a regulator deliberately targeting a Big Tech CEO.
The lawsuit argues that Zuckerberg participated personally in the decision-making process that permitted the enormous data leak, while Facebook misled consumers about its privacy protection assurances.
Last year, Racine attempted to add Zuckerberg as a defendant to his ongoing lawsuit against Facebook over the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal. In March, however, a judge from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ruled that Racine had delayed too long to add him. What benefit does naming him to add? Judge Maurice Ross stated that customers in the District of Columbia are no longer eligible for remedy.
Racine now claims that hundreds of documents he has since obtained in the case demonstrate Zuckerberg's direct involvement in Cambridge Analytica's decision-making, and he is thus suing Zuckerberg directly.
A lawsuit filed a year ago, Racine accused Amazon of anticompetitive conduct in treating businesses in its marketplace. He said that the methods increased prices for consumers and inhibited innovation and selection in the online retail business. Amazon has denied the accusations.
The court dismissed this case, but Racine has requested that it be revisited.