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The District of Columbia attorney general is seeking to hold Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg personally liable in a lawsuit stemming from the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, a novel legal action the district took against the social-media giant.

Attorney General Carl Racine said on Wednesday that he filed a motion to add Mr Zuckerberg as a defendant in a consumer-protection lawsuit originally filed in December 2018, asking Facebook to protect its users on the privacy and security of their personal data. was accused of misleading. His office said it was the first time a US regulator has specifically named Zuckerberg in a complaint.

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Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said: “The allegations are as baseless today as they were three years ago when the district filed its complaint.

“We will continue to defend ourselves vigorously and focus on the facts,” he said.

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Ex-Secretary: Facebook should solve the problem

Mr Racine said he made the decision after reviewing the company’s documents as part of the finding in the lawsuit. “It is clear that Mr Zuckerberg deliberately and actively participated in each decision, which led to the mass collection of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica and that Facebook misrepresented to users how secure their data was,” he said. said.

The development is a reminder of the legal threats facing Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg. The Washington, D.C., lawsuit was filed after revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a now-defunct political consulting firm, improperly mined user data.

Recently, executives are looking at company documents revealed by a former employee, Frances Haugen, and reported by The Wall Street Journal, which show the company is aware that its platforms are prone to damaging loopholes. are full.

Facebook restricts employees’ access to some internal discussion groups

Journal articles and subsequent Senate hearings have prompted lawmakers to begin writing legislation to address perceived concerns about the company’s platforms. Mr. Racine’s action suggests that the courtroom may also be a way to address those concerns.

“We think Facebook may now face a similar challenge from increasing litigation in the form of tobacco, or more recently OxyContin,” Blair Levine, an analyst at New Street Research, wrote in a recent note to clients. He added that even class-action lawsuits from private plaintiffs are a threat to the company’s bottom line.

Mr Racine said most of the new charges against Mr Zuckerberg have been modified because of a protective order in the trial. The attorney general, whose term expires in early 2023, has said he will not seek re-election.

Also on Wednesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) sent Mr. Zuckerberg a letter inviting him to testify at a hearing on Instagram and children. “Parents across America are deeply disturbed by ongoing reports that Facebook knows Instagram can cause devastating and lasting harm to many adolescents and children, particularly to their mental health and well-being,” Mr Blumenthal wrote. He also said that he is “disappointed that Facebook is unwilling to be completely transparent … and appears to have hidden important information from us about adolescent mental health and addiction.”

He indicated that Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, may testify instead.

Facebook had no immediate comment on the request.

This article first appeared in The Wall Street Journal