Zuckerberg’s early notes on privacy now haunt Facebook in suit

If Mark Zuckerberg’s “juvenile jottings” on privacy from 15 years in the past nonetheless exist, they’re about to be pored over by legal professionals.

Facebook Inc. was ordered by a court-appointed referee to seek for any personal notes by the company founder that haven’t been destroyed and may be related to a client lawsuit accusing the social networking large of failing to safeguard privacy in the years main up the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The company strenuously objected to even reviewing the fabric, arguing that the one motive plaintiffs’ legal professionals need to see it’s to “exert pressure on Facebook by harassing and embarrassing its CEO.”

It’s been a foul week for Facebook, which confronted an unprecedented world outage of the company’s websites and a dangerous interview by a former insider turned whistle-blower that despatched the stock down almost 5% on Monday.

The legal professionals suing the company mentioned in a court docket submitting that their curiosity in Zuckerberg’s writings from 2006 — when he was 22 and Facebook was two years previous — was piqued by a 17-page chunk of his notebooks that featured in journalist Steven Levy’s 2020 e-book, “Facebook: The Inside Story.”

The notebooks “address issues that lie at the core of this case: did Facebook, at Mark Zuckerberg’s direction, subvert its privacy promises to users in order to monetise the data they provided?” in response to the submitting. “Such thoughts are not academic here. Zuckerberg has been at the forefront of the campaign to assure users that Facebook cares about privacy.”

In response, Facebook famous that Levy reported that Zuckerberg mentioned he destroyed the notebooks on the recommendation of legal professionals who envisioned them changing into potential proof in future lawsuits. The company went on to argue that whereas some notebooks should still exist, any try to tie the problems in the lawsuit to what Zuckerberg thought so way back is “not just a stretch. It’s absurd.”

“Plaintiffs’ case is not about ‘privacy’ writ large, and it is certainly not about Mr. Zuckerberg’s nascent thoughts about privacy 15 years ago,” the company’s legal professionals wrote in a submitting. “Plaintiffs’ claims arise out of the Cambridge Analytica events that occurred 10 years after the notebook in question was supposedly written.”

The referee appointed to type out disputes over pretrial data sharing, often known as a particular grasp, concluded the notebooks could also be related based mostly on Levy’s assertion that they conveyed a “detailed version” of Zuckerberg’s “product vision,” together with “a privacy ‘mixer’ that let users control who would see an item about them.”

“It is possible information related to the design of future Facebook features exists in notebooks from 2006, if not notebooks from later years,” the particular grasp wrote in a September 29 order. “In any event, Facebook is not able to assert that the Zuckerberg Notebooks are in fact not relevant without reviewing them.”

The case is In Re Facebook Consumer Privacy User Profile Litigation, 18-MD-02843, US District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

© 2021 Bloomberg

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