Mark Zuckerberg May Be Personally Exposed in Facebook Privacy Lawsuit, Report Says

Mark Zuckerberg

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co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be personally exposed to financial and other penalties if added to a lawsuit linked to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to a report.

Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia, plans to add Zuckerberg to a consumer protection lawsuit filed in 2018, the New York Times reported Wednesday. It would be a significant move by a regulator to personally expose the CEO to any penalties associated with the outcome of the case.

Facebook, through lobbyists and lawyers, has previously fought back against attempts by the Federal Trade Commission to name him in previous privacy cases, and succeeded in keeping his name off a $5 billion FTC settlement in 2019, the Times said. Facebook could appeal Racine’s potential amendment naming Zuckerberg as a respondent.

The case before the court in D.C. is linked to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where a British consulting firm is alleged to have collected data on up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent, aiding political advertising efforts. Cambridge Analytica worked with the 2016 campaign of former President Donald Trump. 

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook misled consumers about privacy on its platform by allowing the firm to collect sensitive data on more than half of D.C.’s residents—which Facebook denies—according to the Times.

It reported that Racine found Zuckerberg played a much more active role in key decisions than had previously been known.

“Under these circumstances, adding Mr. Zuckerberg to our lawsuit is unquestionably warranted, and should send a message that corporate leaders, including the C.E.O., will be held accountable for their actions,” Racine said in a statement published in the Times.

The report said that Racine could seek up to $5,000 for any of D.C.’s 300,000 residents who were affected by the privacy violation, which are penalties that Zuckerberg would be exposed to.

(ticker: FB) stock was 0.6% higher in U.S. premarket trading Wednesday. The shares have fallen nearly 4.5% over the past month. The social company has recently come under scrutiny following a series of investigations by The Wall Street Journal, and Congressional testimony from a company whistleblower, that has reignited a public debate about the social media giant’s role in society.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment

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