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Facebook Parent Company Meta Fined Nearly $25 Million for Over 800 Campaign Finance Violations

Facebook Parent Company Meta Fined Nearly $25 Million for Over 800 Campaign Finance Violations

Facebook and Instagram's parent company Meta has been fined nearly $25 million for over 800 violations of Washington state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.

The fine represents the largest campaign finance penalty anywhere in the country — ever, according to a statement from Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North ruled on Wednesday that the company was repeatedly and intentionally violating the state's campaign finance laws.

Ferguson had requested Meta receive the maximum possible fine, which the judge granted.

According to a press release from Ferguson's office, Judge North ruled that Meta "intentionally violated Washington law 822 times." He also ruled that since the violations were intentional, the court had the option to triple the penalty, for a maximum of $30,000 per violation.

In total, Meta was fined $24,660,000.

Judge North also ordered Facebook to reimburse the Attorney General’s costs and fees, and ordered that those attorneys’ fees should also be tripled “as punitive damages for Meta’s intentional violations of state law.” The total amount for that will be determined at a later date, but Ferguson's office said that they are requesting a total of $10.5 million, which includes the treble damages.

The court ruled that Meta must pay 12 percent interest per year on the total judgment, beginning when the payments are due.

The campaign finance penalties go to the State Public Disclosure Transparency Account in accordance with state law.

“I have one word for Facebook’s conduct in this case — arrogance,” Ferguson said. “It intentionally disregarded Washington’s election transparency laws. But that wasn’t enough. Facebook argued in court that those laws should be declared unconstitutional. That’s breathtaking. Where’s the corporate responsibility? I urge Facebook to come to its senses, accept responsibility, apologize for its conduct, and comply with the law. If Facebook refuses to do this, we will beat them again in court.”

The press release explained that the case was based on a 1972 law that requires commercial advertisers that runs campaign ads in Washington to "maintain records on campaign ads and make them available to the public. This includes information related to the cost of the ad, the sponsor of the ad, as well as targeting and reach information."

Washington said that Facebook was repeatedly defying the law since December 2018.

Meta had argued that the law is "unconstitutional," a violation of free speech, and "virtually impossible to comply with."

Timcast has reached out to Meta for comment and will update this story if one is provided.

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