Updated Oct 27, 2022 - Technology

Meta faces $24.7M fine for campaign finance violations in Washington

 A sign is posted in front of Meta headquarters on April 28, 2022 in Menlo Park, California.

A sign at Meta headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Meta, Facebook's parent company, was hit with a $24.7 million fine Wednesday after a Washington judge found the tech giant had intentionally violated the state's campaign finance disclosure laws 822 times.

The big picture: The fine that King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North issued "represents the largest campaign finance penalty anywhere in the country — ever," per a statement from Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. A Meta spokesperson said the firm is assessing its options and declined to comment further.

A screenshot of a tweet from Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson saying the Meta fine represents the largest ever campaign finance penalty in the U.S.
Photo: Attorney General Bob Ferguson/Twitter

Driving the news: North issued the maximum penalty for the violations of Washington's Fair Campaign Practices Act. Each violation carried a $30,000 penalty.

  • The law "requires campaign advertisers, including entities such as Meta that host political ads, to make information about Washington political ads that run on their platforms available for public inspection in a timely manner," per Ferguson's office.
  • "The state asserted that Meta violated the law repeatedly since December 2018 and committed hundreds of violations."

Background: The Washington attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit against Meta for failure to produce campaign advertising records in 2018 and the company agreed to pay $238,000 while committing to transparency in campaign finance and political advertising.

  • "However, Meta continued to run Washington political ads without maintaining the required information — prompting Ferguson to sue again in 2020," the attorney general's office noted.

What we're watching: North ruled Meta must reimburse the attorney general's costs to be determined at a later date. Ferguson's office is requesting $10.5 million in total for this.

  • The court also ordered Meta to pay 12% interest per year on the total judgment, starting from when the payments are due.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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