Social media corporations have been under fire in recent years for the political information they permitted on their platforms and for suppressing conservative politicians. Whatever the case, Facebook is a business—and one of the most successful ones there is. However, this does not exempt it from state laws.
Each state has distinct campaign finance regulations across the nation. In 1972, Washington, in the northwest, enacted a legislation requiring campaign transparency. A state court heavily penalized Facebook’s parent corporation, Meta, on Wednesday, October 26, for repeatedly breaking the law.
Voters in Washington State approved a measure in 1972 to increase the transparency of political ad buying. It demands that ad sellers give anyone who requests the information access to the identities and addresses of ad buyers, the objectives of the ads, and the overall views of each ad. Newspapers and television broadcasters abided by state legislation for many years.
Attorney General of Washington State Bob Ferguson brought legal action against Facebook and Google in 2018 for breaking the law. Both businesses stated that rather than complying with the regulation, they would discontinue selling political advertisements. However, they failed to do so and were fined $200,000 the same year.
Ferguson sued Meta once more in 2020. Three persons requested information concerning the political ads the company sold on the platform between 2019 and 2021. King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North issued his decision on Wednesday, finding that the enormous tech company broke the law 822 times between 2019 and 2021. He claimed that despite being obligated by law, the massive firm refused to provide the requestors’ requests. Instead, weeks or months after the request, they received partial, redacted information.
North assessed Meta a fine of $24.7 million, or the maximum fine of $30,000 for each offense. As a result of the corporation’s deliberate violation of the state law, the judge further ordered it to pay triple the amount as punitive damages as well as legal fees and costs. The $10.5 million that the AG’s office is requesting will be decided at a later date. North also stipulated that the business must pay 12% interest on the total amount beginning on the payment due date. Furthermore, compliance must be achieved in 30 days.
Ferguson claimed that Facebook acted haughtily and willfully disregarded Washington’s statute requiring campaign transparency. Even worse, he pointed out how the internet giant argued in court that the judge ought to deem the statute unlawful. In September, the judge turned down Meta’s request to invalidate certain provisions of the law. The AG also questioned why the business didn’t take any corporate accountability for its deeds.
Facebook should “come to its senses,” “apologize,” and “follow the law,” according to the attorney general. Ferguson promised to go back to court and win if necessary. According to his office, it was the biggest campaign financing fine in the nation’s history.