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Is Mark Zuckerberg Legally Responsible For Facebook’s Actions?

Max Rubin: October 25, 2021

Photo: Eric Thayer for The New York Times

In 2018, a complaint was filed against Facebook claiming they misled consumers about privacy on the platform by allowing Cambridge Analytica, to use personal data from nearly 90 million users. Of these users was more than half of Washington D.C. residents, which explains why the attorney general for the District of Columbia has been paying special attention to this case. However after the AG decided last week to add Mark Zuckerberg to the consumer protection lawsuit, one has to wonder, should Mark Zuckerberg be held personally liable for the actions of his company?

After all, one person can’t influence an entire company the size of Facebook, right? Wrong. According to the New York Times, Zuckerberg still retains more than 50% control of voting shares. However Zuckerberg’s actions tell an even better story than his control of the company. In 2010, Facebook began shifting their products and services towards giving developers access to Facebook’s data, an idea Zuckerberg spearheaded. This program lead to the Cambridge Analytica data breach, something the company attempted to cover up for more than 2 years.

According to Facebook, this decision to allow developers to have access to data was not something that the company hid. They claim the decision was made public, seemingly claiming they couldn’t have misled consumers about their data privacy practices when they were transparent about them. In my opinion, transparency does not go far enough. Simply because one informs another that they will be committing a crime, does not mean that they have the permission to do so. As such, I believe Mark Zuckerberg, not just Facebook, should be held liable for the actions that led to personal privacy violations.

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