Press Release

RFOB Gains Access To Latest Zuckerberg SEC Transcripts in Cambridge Analytica Case

The lawsuit against the SEC will carry on in DC Court.

For over a year and a half, the Real Facebook Oversight Board has been working to gain complete access to transcripts of Mark Zuckerberg’s 2019 SEC deposition. Earlier this month, the SEC concluded that Meta does not have grounds to argue that information in Mark Zuckerberg’s 2019 deposition with the transcript can be kept secret despite claims of “trade secrets” (exemption 4). 

Following the conclusion of our administrative procedure with Meta, the SEC returned an updated version of the transcript, removing dozens of redactions on 114 of the 203 pages of the transcript.

The records request for Zuckerberg’s deposition was first filed by RFOB Policy Advisor Zamaan Qureshi who has sued the SEC to remove further redactions. Following the conclusion of the administrative proceedings, Qureshi (who is represented by Public Citizen) in court submitted a scheduling order certifying that we have delivered the redactions we wish to challenge to the SEC lawyers. We look forward to the SEC’s prompt response and encourage them to make public the transcript, in its entirety, for public awareness and accountability.

Throughout this process, Meta has repeatedly sought to delay proceedings and use its influence to attempt to strongarm the regulator from making public further damning evidence that Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO, knew about British consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica much earlier—January 2017—than when he told Congress he first became aware in March 2018. In addition, Zuckerberg weighed naming Cambridge Analytica as a threat commensurate with Russian actors on Facebook in September 2017 but removed the entry.

This transcript reveals:

  • Facebook deliberately gave access to third-party developers to collect “friends-of-friends” data
  • SEC lawyers asked Zuckerberg about BridgeTree, a commercial entity that boasts of scraping and selling access to Facebook user data to clients, similar to Cambridge Analytica
  • Facebook whitelists some companies, like Spotify, providing access to “friends-of-friends” data even after the changes to the new API version
  • Facebook likely didn’t consider informing users that their information had been accessed and sold by Cambridge Analytica in December 2015 or January 2016, when the first story on the topic broke.

The complaint also shows the kinds of information regularly kept secret by the SEC, relevant as multiple other tech platforms argue for protecting “trade secrets” in similar proceedings. 

Complaint — Qureshi v. Securities and Exchange Commission