DC Sues Facebook Over Data Scandal

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The District of Columbia sued Facebook for allowing data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica to improperly access data from as many as 87 million users. But the lawsuit also calls out other business practices like Facebook allowing certain companies to "override" a user's privacy settings in order to access data, CNBC reports.

Last week, Facebook had fallen under scrutiny yet again after it was reported that a bug had affected almost 7 million users, granting permission to third-party apps to access their photos, including photos that users had never posted to Facebook. Other lawsuits, as well as regulatory inquiries by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Irish Data Protection Commission, are focused on Facebook's sharing of personal information with other companies.

The firm used a benign-looking quiz app to gather information on Facebook users and their friends, including names, locations, religious and political affiliations and educational backgrounds.

A whistleblower at the consultancy, which worked on Trump's presidential campaign, said it used Facebook data to develop profiles of users who were targeted with personalized messages that could have played on their fears.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine is suing Facebook.

A Facebook spokesperson told the BBC: "We're reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere".

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Facebook has already produced "reams of documents" in response to the attorney general's investigation, officials said.

It turns out, the app also hoovered up the personal information of users' Facebook friends and that information was eventually sold to Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm that did work for several Republican candidates.

Mark Zuckerberg's net worth took a major hit this year after scandals plagued Facebook.

The fallout from Cambridge Analytica, which is still ongoing, led to congressional hearings in the United States and inquiries in the United Kingdom.

It remains unclear, however, whether the allegations that are being made against Facebook in the District of Columbia and in other complaints were against the law at the time, said Dora Kingsley Vertenten, professor of public policy at the University of Southern California.

Revelations about Facebook's response to manipulation of the social network before and after the 2016 USA presidential election, and shifting accounts about breaches of users' privacy, have battered the company's reputation and fueled frustration on Capitol Hill.