Ex-FTC Official Who Battled Facebook a Decade Ago Reflects on D.C. Attorney General’s ‘David v. Goliath’ Fight Against Mark Zuckerberg


Karl Racine, Mark Zuckerberg

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (left) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (right)

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When the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in 2018, the now-former director of the Federal Trade Commission bureau that put Facebook under a consent decree about a decade ago recalled feeling “pissed.”

Now a professor at Georgetown Law, David Vladeck led the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection when it put Facebook under a consent decree specifically aimed at curbing its privacy violations. Facebook’s violation of that order during the Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in a record-breaking $5 billion civil penalty against the social media giant some six years later.

After the federal government dropped the hammer, the fallout continued on the local level in a recently filed lawsuit by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D), who accused Zuckerberg of being “personally involved” in the decisions that led to 2016 election manipulation. Racine described his litigation as a “David v. Goliath” battle in a recent interview with CNBC.

On the latest episode of Law&Crime’s podcast “Objections: with Adam Klasfeld,” Vladeck agrees with that analogy and says that accountability for Facebook will only come when Zuckerberg feels pain from regulators.

“The real question is, when you’re trying to hold an entity like Facebook responsible, ‘Who ultimately is the final decision maker?’” Vladeck noted. “And Facebook is an odd organization because Zuckerberg owns virtually all of the stock that allows him to, you know, basically to do whatever he wants with Facebook.”

“Unless Zuckerberg is responsible for compliance, there really is no other way to threaten Facebook,” Vladeck declared.

Racine signaled his plans to sue Zuckerberg late…


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