A Washington State judge has levied fines against Facebook's parent company in a campaign finance lawsuit brought by the state. Judge Douglas North of King County's Superior Court fined Meta, one of the richest companies in the world, nearly $25 million for repeatedly and willfully breaking the campaign fund disclosure law.
The State of Washington requires businesses to be transparent about their ad sellers. If asked, they must provide the public names and addresses of those who purchase political advertisements, who the advertisements target, how they were paid, and the number of views each political advertisement received. Washington's Fair Campaign procedures were established in 1972 and strengthened by legislative action, and more than 800 infractions have been detected that the corporation has committed.
Meta says the Fair campaign procedures are “unconstitutional because [they] unduly burden political speech” and are “virtually impossible to fully comply with.” The court has replied that Facebook's conduct during this case is pure “arrogance.”
Facebook was first sued in 2018 and agreed to pay $238,000 and committed to being more transparent in campaign finance and political advertising. When they subsequently ignored the agreement and continued to sell political ads, the Court sued again in 2020.
[Sources: Associated Press; Fortune.com; Seatletimes.com]