Zuckerberg and Sandberg Ordered to Testify over Alleged Involvement in Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Zuckerberg and Sandberg Ordered to Testify over Alleged Involvement in Cambridge Analytica Scandal
Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and former COO Sheryl Sandberg will have to provide testimony to a federal court to discuss their alleged involvement in the company’s notorious Cambridge Analytica scandal, over half a decade since it first captured the world’s attention.

A new filing in the Northern District of California Tuesday shows Zuckerberg and Sandberg agreed to be deposed for six and five hours respectively in September of this year. This comes as part of a class action lawsuit filed against Meta, claiming the company violated consumer privacy laws when it shared user data with Cambridge Analytica back in 2015. Cambridge Analytica was a British political consulting firm that used Facebook user data to target and lobby potential voters ahead of the 2016 election in favour of Donald Trump. The ensuing scandal helped trigger an investigation from the Federal Trade Commission that resulted in Facebook agreeing to a record-setting $US5 ($7) billion settlement over its privacy practices.

In addition to Zuckerberg and Sandberg, the court’s also seeking to depose Meta’s newly named CTO Javier Olivan — who previously served as the company’s Chief Growth Officer — as well as a handful of other “key witnesses.” Olivan’s deposition is expected to last three hours. According to Tuesday’s filing Meta will also hand over 1,200 documents “previously withheld as privileged.” Plaintiffs in the case previously accused Meta and the law firm representing it of “stonewalling,” during the court’s discovery phase.

The California lawsuit is just one of several legal actions involving the Cambridge Analytica scandal to reappear in recent months. Back in May, Washington D.C, Attorney General Karl Racine sued Zuckerberg for, “directly participating in decision-making that allowed the Cambridge Analytica data breach.” Racine’s suit claims Zuckerberg personally contributed to Meta (then Facebook’s) lax user privacy rules and claims the founder directed the company to ​​team up with outside groups that collected Facebook user data to manipulate users. Previous complaints levied by Racine allege Facebook was aware of Cambridge Analytica’s questionable data-harvesting practices months earlier than when Zuckerberg said.