A judge recently ruled that Facebook repeatedly and intentionally violated the State of Washington’s campaign-ad transparency laws and must pay penalties. Attorney General Bob Ferguson derided Facebook’s “cynical attempt” to gut the state’s campaign finance laws, challenging the Masters of the Universe to “follow the law.”
The Seattle Times reports that Facebook (now known as Meta) repeatedly and intentionally violated Washington’s campaign-ad transparency laws and must pay yet-to-be-determined penalties, according to a ruling made by King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North. The law states that ad sellers must disclose the name and address of political ad buyers, and metrics such as the total number of ad views generated. Every newspaper and other outlet in the state follows the rule without trouble, but Facebook believed it shouldn’t have to.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office has repeatedly sued Facebook, stated that the court denied Facebook’s attempt to invalidate Washington’s decades-old transparency law. In a statement, Ferguson said that following a ruling made Friday by King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North, the Attorney General’s office defeated Facebook’s “cynical attempt” to gut Washington’s campaign-finance transparency law.
“On behalf of the people of Washington, I challenge Facebook to accept this decision and do something very simple — follow the law,” Ferguson said. Washington’s transparency law was originally passed in 1972 and requires ad sellers such as Meta to disclose the names and addresses of political ad buyers, the targets of the ads, and the total number of views each ad receives.
Facebook repeatedly objected to the requirements and argued in a summary judgment motion that Washington’s law is an “outlier” that “unduly burdens political speech,” and is “virtually impossible to comply with.”
In court, Judge North rejected Facebook’s arguments, stating that the company had failed to show it was unable to comply. “This is clearly a very appropriate subject for disclosure, and the law is very constitutional,” North said.
The exact penalties that Facebook will pay will be determined at a later court hearing. The law allows financial positions of $10,000 per violation, which can be tripled when violations are determined to be intentional. The Attorney General’s Office alleged that Facebook has committed several hundred violations since 2018.
BY: LUCAS NOLAN