Slap on the Wrist: Washington State Fines Facebook $25 Million Fine for Campaign Finance Violations

Mark Zuckerberg at Georgetown

Facebook (now known as Meta) was fined almost $25 million on Wednesday for intentionally and repeatedly violating Washington State’s campaign finance laws. Attorney General Bob Ferguson claims it is the largest campaign finance penalty ever issued in the United States, but the fine is less than a rounding error for Mark Zuckerberg’s giant, which enjoyed annual profits of $46.7 billion in 2021.

The Seattle Times reports that King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North issued the maximum possible fine to tech giant Facebook after determining that the company had violated Washington State’s political disclosure laws 822 separate times between 2019 and 2021. The state’s election laws require advertisers to disclose the identity of political ad buyers, the targets of the ads, and how many views they receive. The vast majority of news outlets and other advertising sources comply with the law, but Facebook believes it doesn’t need to.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives for the 8th annual Breakthrough Prize awards ceremony at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California on November 3, 2019. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office noted that this is the largest campaign finance penalty ever issued anywhere in the United States. Usually, each violation of the law is punishable by up to $10,000 but as North found that Facebook intentionally violated the law, the fine was tripled.

Facebook was fined $30,000 for each of its 822 violations. Ferguson, who brought the case against the company, asked for the maximum possible fine after his office sued Facebook for violating the same law in 2018.

“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?”

He added: “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.”

Ferguson’s office is further requested that its attorneys’ feed be tripled for a total of $10.5 million. Facebook declined to comment on the case when questioned by the Seattle Times.

Read more at the Seattle Times here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan


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