Judge rules that Facebook parent company Meta ‘intentionally’ violated state campaign ad law

Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Friday that a judge ruled that Facebook parent company Meta intentionally violated the state’s campaign finance transparency law.

The law requires campaign advertisers, as well as entities that host ads such as Meta, to make information about the ads that run on their platforms available for the public to see “in a timely manner,” according to a release from the AG’s office.

That information includes ad sponsors, costs of the ad, and target and reach information.

In July, Ferguson filed a summary judgment motion against Meta, arguing that the company had violated the law hundreds of times since December 2018.

The judge concluded Friday that Meta had repeatedly and intentionally violated the law and ordered the company to pay penalties. The exact amount is to be determined at a later date.

Under state law, Meta could be penalized up to $10,000 per violation.

Because the violations were intentional, though, the court can triple the amount for punitive damages.

The judge also denied Meta’s motion for summary judgment, which asked the court to strike down a key provision of the law.

“We defeated Facebook’s cynical attempt to strike down our campaign finance transparency law,” Ferguson said. “On behalf of the people of Washington, I challenge Facebook to accept this decision and do something very simple — follow the law.”

The AG’s office has sued Meta twice for failing to produce campaign advertising records. The first was in 2018, which resulted in a consent decree that required the company to pay $238,000.

Meta was again sued in 2020 by Ferguson for continuing to run Washington political ads without maintaining required information.