Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made headlines late last month when he told podcaster Joe Rogan that during the 2020 election, his company censored reporting on Hunter Biden after receiving a warning from the FBI.
While those remarks have led some to call for an investigation, a judge recently found that the social media platform violated Washington state law on election advertising.
According to The Seattle Times, King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North ruled last Friday that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, failed to comply with rules governing political ads.
Specifically, Meta was required to disclose the names and addresses of political ad buyers along with the total number of ad views generated, both of which North said it failed to do.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson brought the case against Meta and accused the big tech firm of making a “cynical attempt” to gut the 1972 transparency law.
“I challenge Facebook”
“On behalf of the people of Washington, I challenge Facebook to accept this decision and do something very simple — follow the law,” Ferguson said.
For its part, Facebook argued that the law in question is an “outlier” that “unduly burdens political speech” while being “virtually impossible to comply with.”
However, the Times noted that North disagreed and said the company had not demonstrated that it could not meet its legal requirements.
“This is clearly a very appropriate subject for disclosure, and the law is very constitutional,” the judge declared in his ruling.
The Times explained that the law allows fines of up to $10,000 per violation, a figure which can be tripled when a violation is found to be intentional. Ferguson’s office asserts that hundreds of violations have been perpetrated since 2018.
This is not the first instance in which Ferguson has gone after Meta. The Times pointed out that Ferguson’s office sued Facebook and Google for violating the law in 2018, resulting in a settlement worth over $450,000.
Facebook continued to sell political ads in Washington despite making a public pledge not to, resulting in another lawsuit by Ferguson in 2020.