“A Washington state judge on Wednesday fined Facebook parent company Meta nearly $25 million for repeatedly and intentionally violating campaign finance disclosure law, in what is believed to be the largest campaign finance penalty in U.S. history,” NPR reported.
The social media platform reportedly violated Washington’s political disclosure law 822 separate times between 2019 and 2021.
Meta was also ordered to fully comply with the state’s election transparency laws, requiring ad sellers to “disclose the names and addresses of political buys, the targets of such ads and, the total number of viewers of each ad.”
Facebook parent company Meta has been ordered to pay $10.5 million in legal fees to Washington state atop a nearly $25 million fine for repeated and intentional violations of campaign finance disclosure laws. https://t.co/QqEIyW45Wp
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 29, 2022
Facebook hit with $25 million in fines for breaking Washington election law https://t.co/gbY9MyYbJa
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) October 27, 2022
Cont. from NPR:
The penalty issued by King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North was the maximum allowed for more than 800 violations of Washington’s Fair Campaign Practices Act, passed by voters in 1972 and later strengthened by the Legislature. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the maximum was appropriate considering his office previously sued Facebook in 2018 for violating the same law.
Meta, based in Menlo Park, California, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Washington’s transparency law requires ad sellers such as Meta to keep and make public the names and addresses of those who buy political ads, the target of such ads, how the ads were paid for and the total number of views of each ad. Ad sellers must provide the information to anyone who asks for it. Television stations and newspapers have complied with the law for decades.
But Meta has repeatedly objected to the requirements, arguing unsuccessfully in court that the law is unconstitutional because it “unduly burdens political speech” and is “virtually impossible to fully comply with.” While Facebook does keep an archive of political ads that run on the platform, the archive does not disclose all the information required under Washington’s law.
Zero Hedge added:
While Facebook has dealt with numerous instances of election related complaints and also litigation, it should be noted that the company has received extensive state and local subsidies totaling almost $800 million, including $35 million in tax credits from Washington; that’s free taxpayer dollars going into the pockets of Mark Zuckerberg. While Meta argues that it should not be subject to the oversight of states when it comes to its political advertising, it’s hard for them to claim private business rights when they are swimming in government money.
The fine from Washington might not seem like much, but Meta and Facebook have entered financial free fall over the past year as problems continue to accumulate.
Mark Zuckerberg has seen his net worth plunge by more than $100 billion in the last 13 months as the stock price of his company, Meta, faced steep losses this week. The primacy of Facebook in the social media sphere is coming into question, with Zuckerberg’s virtual reality projects adding little optimism or excitement.
Before the advent of the covid lockdowns most Big Tech media platforms were in steep financial decline due to falling ad revenues and rising costs. Facebook in particular was dealing with stock share losses and stagnating growth. After the lockdowns began, there was a brief period in which the public and investors believed that online platforms and sales would become indispensable as the only options available in the midst of a pandemic environment and government enforced stay at home orders.
People thought we might be locked down for many years to come and the online marketplace would dominate. One would think that the populace would turn to these corporations in droves as the only source of relief, but this renaissance for Big Tech never actually materialized.