Meta Ordered to Pay $10.5M to Washington State for Legal Fees in Campaign Finance Lawsuit

A judge ordered Meta to pay $10.5 million in legal fines to Washington State after the Facebook parent company lost a campaign finance lawsuit.

Photograph of Meta Headquarters in California

Image via Getty/Kelly Sullivan

Photograph of Meta Headquarters in California

Meta is out almost $35.5 million dollars following the loss of a campaign finance lawsuit filed by Washington state.

NBC News reports that a judge in King County, Washington has ruled that the Facebook parent company has to pay $10.5 million in legal fees to the state and almost $25 million due to “repeated and intentional violations of campaign finance disclosure laws.”

That $25 million is thought to be the biggest campaign finance fine ever in America, per The Seattle Times, for over 800 violations of Washington’s Fair Campaign Practices Act. The fines for legal fees came later, on Friday. Meta is required to pay the state Public Disclosure Commission within 30 days. The agency imposes campaign finance laws.

Washington’s transparency law was passed in 1972, and television stations and newspapers have abided by the law for years—but Meta was not. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in court that the maximum fine was fitting since Facebook had faced the same lawsuit in 2018, filed by his office.

Meta argued against the law, saying that it was unconstitutional because it “unduly burdens political speech” and is “impossible” to observe. In response to Ferguson’s 2018 lawsuit, Facebook paid $238,000 and said it would comply with campaign finance and political advertising transparency laws. Then, instead of following the stipulations, Facebook decided to discontinue selling political ad space in Washington.

According to NBC, the “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 requests it.”

When Meta kept selling ads in Washington, Ferguson sued them in 2020.

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