Facebook has landed itself in another legal battle with the Washington state’s attorney general whose office filed a second law suit against the social media giant saying it once again failed to make disclosures required under the state’s campaign finance laws.
Facebook which had already paid about $238,000 back in 2018 to resolve a previous dispute over political ads in Washington state. The company later in 2018 announced that it would actually be stopping the acceptance of political ads related to state or initiatives in Washington though it still permitted advertisements around “issues of national importance” which of course targets people of the state.
Bob Ferguson, the AG of Washington made it known that Facebook had continued selling hundreds of ads to more than 171 state political committees since 20118 which violate its own policy.
Ferguson also said that Facebook’s ad library which is a searchable database aimed at providing transparency around political advertising provides some information about those ads though it doesn’t include details required under the Washington law such as the name of the person paying for the ads or their precise cost.
A Facebook spokeswoman said the company aimed to work with authorities in Washington to resolve the dispute.
Right after the 2016 election, it’s been necessitated that social media companies provides information about political ads since as required by the US intelligence agencies which found that Russia targeted American voters with social media content which also includes ads in order to influence the 2016 election even though the country denied such allegation.
Facebook’s Ad Library has been a cornerstone of its efforts to be more transparent about its role in elections, and the company frequently points to it in response to criticism about its decision not to fact-check political ads. But researchers say the database is poorly maintained and fails to provide detailed targeting data.
Other big tech companies such as Google, Twitter as well as Snap have all launched similar advertising libraries in recent years and Reddit also announced it was working on such project this week although other platforms have imposed more stringent rules around misleading information and targeting for political ads.