The scandal surrounding the leaking of Facebook user data is entering the next round. Back in 2018, then Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was supposed to be held personally accountable in the “Cambridge Analytica” case, and now he has actually been indicted.

It is not the first time that US investigators have targeted Mark Zuckerberg. Back in 2021, the Washington attorney general’s office sought to add Zuckerberg to a lawsuit filed against Facebook in 2018. The allegation: that he misinformed Facebook users about sharing their data. However, the judge rejected the request. Now the new attempt.

What happened?

The cause of action goes back four years. In 2018, the Observer and the NY Times uncovered what was probably the biggest data scandal in Facebook history. In focus: scientist Aleksandr Kogan. For a scientific study, Kogan started a survey on Facebook using a quiz app – and forwarded the collected data to the now insolvent data analysis company Cambridge Analytica. Not only were the profiles of the quiz participants analyzed, but also the personal data of their friends. A total of around 87 million users were affected. This was a violation of Facebook’s contractual guidelines, which prohibit the transfer of data to third parties.

The role of Zuckerberg

For the first time since the data scandal surrounding “Cambridge Analytica” became known, the incident now also has a legal repercussion for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The lawsuit filed on May 23, 2022, by Karl Racine – the attorney general of Washington, D.C. – is the first attempt to hold Zuckerberg personally accountable for misconduct by his company. He was directly involved in decisions that led to the data scandal, according to new evidence, Racine said. What’s more, he said, the lax data privacy rules created by Zuckerberg made such a scandal possible in the first place. Facebook had only restricted the amount of data that could be viewed by outside app developers after it came to light. Too late, argues the attorney general’s office. Now courts must clarify Zuckerberg’s responsibility.

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