Facebook ‘Repeatedly and Intentionally’ Violated Washington’s Political Ad Law, Judge Rules – Slashdot

The Seattle Times reports:
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, repeatedly and intentionally violated Washington campaign-ad transparency law and must pay penalties yet to be determined, a judge ruled Friday.

The court also denied Meta’s attempt to invalidate Washington’s decades-old transparency law, according to Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office has repeatedly sued Meta over its failure to abide by the law…. 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 — follow the law,” he said.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Washington’s transparency law, originally passed by voters through an initiative in 1972, requires ad sellers such as Meta to disclose the names and addresses of political ad buyers, the targets of such ads and the total number of views of each ad.
Meta says that rather than comply with the law, Facebook has stopped serving campaign ads altogether in Washington, GeekWire reports, “after determining that the company wouldn’t be able to reasonably comply with the law.”

But “The current suit against Meta, filed in April 2020, asserts that the company continued to accept political ads in the state after promising to stop.”
The judge will now consider fines and a potential injunction against the social media giant, reported Eli Sanders, a Seattle journalist who covered the dispute for years for The Stranger newspaper and more recently in his Wild West newsletter….

In court filings, Meta called Washington state “an outlier,” arguing that the disclosure law violates the First Amendment by unfairly targeting political speech, and imposing onerous timelines for disclosing what Meta considers unreasonable degrees of detail to people who request information about political ads.

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