A court-appointed referee has ordered Facebook Inc to look for any personal notes by the company’s founder that hasn’t been destroyed and could be relevant to a consumer lawsuit accusing the social media giant of failing to protect privacy in the years leading up to the Cambridge Analytica debacle.
The business has vehemently opposed even seeing the documents, claiming that plaintiffs’ lawyers are solely interested in seeing them in order to “put pressure on Facebook by harassing and shaming its CEO.”
Facebook has had a horrible week, with the company’s sites going down about 5% on Monday after an unprecedented global outage and a devastating interview by a former insider turned whistle-blower.
A 17-page section of Zuckerberg’s notes published in journalist Steven Levy’s 2020 book, “Facebook: The Inside Story,” aroused the lawyers suing the company’s interest in his writings from 2006, when he was 22 and Facebook was two years old, according to a court document.
The notebooks “address questions that are at the heart of this case: did Facebook, under Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership, violate its users’ privacy obligations in order to profit from the data they provided?” according to the documents “Thoughts like these aren’t academic here.” “Zuckerberg has been in the vanguard of the drive to reassure Facebook users that privacy is important to the company.”
Facebook responded by pointing out that according to Levy, Zuckerberg said he destroyed the notebooks on the advice of lawyers who feared they would be used as evidence in future litigation. While some notebooks may still exist, the business claims that “any attempt to link the concerns in the case is ridiculous.”
The company’s lawyers argued in a filing that “Plaintiffs’ lawsuit is not about ‘privacy’ writ large, and it is certainly not about Mr Zuckerberg’s fledgling beliefs about privacy 15 years ago.” “The plaintiffs’ claims are based on the Cambridge Analytica events, which occurred ten years after the allegedly written notebook.”
Based on Levy’s assertion that the notebooks conveyed a “detailed version” of Zuckerberg’s “product vision,” including “a privacy ‘mixer’ that let users control who would see an item about them,” the special master appointed to resolve disputes over pretrial information sharing concluded the notebooks may be relevant.