Court: Meta violated Washington state campaign finance law

A judge ruled Friday that Facebook owner Meta repeatedly and intentionally violated Washington’s campaign finance law and must pay fines, the Washington state attorney general’s office said.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office said penalties will be determined at a later date and the court also denied Meta’s efforts to strike down Washington’s political ad transparency law.

The oral decision came in a hearing before King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North, The Seattle Times reported.

In a statement, Ferguson said his 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: obey the law,” Ferguson said.

California-based Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the newspaper.

Washington’s Transparency Act, passed by voters some 50 years ago, requires ad sellers such as Meta to disclose the names and addresses of those who buy political ads, the target of those ads, and the total number views of each ad. Ad sellers must provide the information to anyone who requests it.

The social media giant, which also owns Instagram and other social media platforms, has repeatedly opposed the demands and argued in a motion for summary judgment that the Washington law “unduly burdens political speech”. and is “virtually impossible to comply with”.

The law provides for financial penalties of $10,000 per violation, which can be tripled when violations are deemed intentional. The attorney general’s office says Facebook has committed hundreds of violations since 2018.

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