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The Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 recently started making waves again as Attorney General Karl Racine announced his office is suing Meta (formerly Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his role in Facebook’s misleading privacy practices and failure to protect millions of users’ data.
Four years ago, whistleblower Christopher Wylie revealed that London-based electioneering firm Cambridge Analytica exfiltrated the personal data of more than 70 million Facebook users to influence the results of the 2016 United States presidential election. The data trove included Facebook users’ ages, interests, pages they liked, groups they belonged to, physical locations, political affiliation, religious affiliation, relationships, and photos, as well as their full names, phone numbers, and email addresses.
The personal data of millions of Facebook users in the United States that Cambridge Analytica used to manipulate the election accounted for more than half the total votes during the 22016 presidential elections in an election decided by a few hundred thousand people.
Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly condemned Cambridge Analytica’s data collection three years later, which, according to Racine, only demonstrates that what they say publicly is part of an intentional plan to mask the devastating consequences of their actions.
“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,” said the Attorney General. “This lawsuit is not only warranted, but necessary, and sends a message that corporate leaders, including CEOs, will be held accountable for their actions.”
According to Racine, the latest suit against the Meta CEO comes from an existing investigation and lawsuit his office filed against Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. The attorney general claims that because Zuckerberg holds the most significant number of shares of Meta and has the final say in everything that happens within the company, he is ultimately responsible for Facebook’s daily operations. As a result, according to Racine, Mark Zuckerberg is also responsible for the events that led to the scandal.
When Facebook rebranded as Meta in October 2021, suspicions were raised. Despite the company sharing its focus on the Metaverse, many believed that the name change was a move for Facebook to distance itself from its ongoing legal troubles.
Attorney General Karl Racine previously attempted to name Mark Zuckerberg personally responsible for the user data leak in 2018, but the judge dismissed the move, reasoning that Racine waited too long to name Zuckerberg in the case.