A request to depose Mark Zuckerberg as part of Washington, D.C.’s data-privacy lawsuit against Facebook drew a blistering denial from the judge overseeing the case, who called the attempt “frankly annoying.”
D.C. Superior Court Judge Maurice A. Ross said Tuesday the district waited too long to add the Meta Platforms Inc. chief executive officer to the 2018 lawsuit and that a deposition was unlikely to help consumers who were allegedly harmed by the social-media company’s handling of user data.
“You want to change this from a case about Facebook to a case about Mr. Zuckerberg,” Ross said Tuesday to a lawyer for D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine during a brief court hearing. The request “smacks of bad faith,” the judge added.
The District of Columbia sued Facebook in 2018 over its handling of user data, exemplified by a privacy breach in which the personal information of millions of Americans was transferred to Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm hired by former president Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Facebook declined to comment. Racine’s office didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Racine’s move to add Zuckerberg to the suit in October was one of the first times a law enforcement official has personally targeted the Facebook founder, but Ross questioned its relevance. The judge said deposing Zuckerberg would not improve the outcome for D.C. consumers, who he said were more interested in receiving money damages than testimony from executives.
Ross cited a line from the 1996 film “Jerry Maguire” to criticize Racine’s focus on Zuckerberg. “Most consumers are like Cuba Gooding — they’re like ‘show me the money,” the judge said. “They don’t care what happens to Zuckerberg.”
The judge said that Racine could always “bring a criminal case” against Zuckerberg if he uncovered evidence that required bringing the executive to justice.
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