Meta Platforms Inc chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg will testify in a lawsuit claiming Facebook illegally shared user data with research firm Cambridge Analytica.
Users sued after it was revealed that a UK research firm connected to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for president gained access to the data of as many as 87 million of the social media network’s subscribers.
In hard-fought battles over pretrial information sharing since the suit was filed in 2018, lawyers for the consumers have gained leverage to pry into the company’s internal records to back up their claims that it failed to safeguard their personal data. Facebook’s parent company could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars if it loses the case.
Zuckerberg has agreed to sit for a deposition for as long as six hours, while Sandberg is set to be questioned for up to five hours, according to a filing Tuesday in San Francisco federal court. Javier Olivan, who has led the company’s growth efforts for years, faces up to three hours of deposition questioning. He will take Sandberg’s place as COO when she formally leaves the company in the fall.
Facebook faced a storm of controversy following the revelation in 2018 that Trump’s campaign benefited from the work of an app developer who started out by collecting personal information from 300,000 users, and later, from those users’ friends. Unbeknownst to users, the developer shared the data trove with Cambridge Analytica, which used it to target voters in 2016 with hyper-specific appeals through “psychographic” modeling.
The ensuing lawsuits were filed on behalf of everyone in the US who uses the social network.
Facebook has argued it disclosed its practices in user agreements. It has also said that anyone sharing their information on a social network shouldn’t count on holding onto their privacy.
Meta didn’t immediate respond to an email seeking comment on the filing. – Bloomberg