Facebook’s parent company Meta has been ordered to pay $10.5 million (nearly Rs.86) legal fees to the state of Washington topping a fine of nearly $25 million (nearly Rs 200.
Judge Douglass North of King County Superior Court issued the legal fee order on Friday, two days after he reached social media gargantuan with what is believed to be the largest campaign finance fine in US history, The Seattle Times reported.
North orders the company to pay by wire transfer, check or money order within 30 days. The money will go to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, which enforces campaign finance laws.
North imposed the maximum allowable fine on more than 800 violations of the Washington Fair Campaign Practices Act, passed by voters in 1972 and later strengthened by the Legislature. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the maximum was appropriate considering his office previously sued Facebook in 2018 for violating the same law.
Metabased in Menlo Park, California, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, the newspaper reported.
The company previously said it was evaluating its options regarding the ruling.
Washington’s transparency law requires ad sellers like Meta to keep and make public the names and addresses of those who buy political ads, the goals of those ads, how the ads are paid, and the total number of visits. view of each ad. Advertisers must provide information to anyone who requests it. Broadcasters and newspapers have been abiding by the law for decades.
But Meta has repeatedly opposed the requests, arguing unsuccessfully in court that the law is unconstitutional because it “excessively burdens political speech” and is “virtually impossible to comply with.” While Facebook maintains an archive of political advertisements running on the platform, which does not disclose all information required under Washington law.
In 2018, after Ferguson’s first lawsuit, Facebook agreed to pay $238,000 (nearly Rs. 2 crore) and commit to transparency in campaign finance and political advertising. It later said it would stop selling political ads in the state instead of complying with the requirements.
However, the company continued to sell political ads, and Ferguson sued again in 2020.
Meta, one of the wealthiest companies in the world, reported quarterly earnings on Wednesday of $4.4 billion (nearly Rs 36,200), or $1.64 (nearly Rs. 130) per each. shares, with sales of nearly $28 billion (nearly Rs 2,30,400), in the three-month period ending September 30.