Meta, Facebook’s parent company, was fined nearly $25 million Wednesday for intentionally and repeatedly violating Washington’s campaign finance laws.

King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North issued the maximum possible fine to the social media giant, after finding that the company had, between 2019 and 2021, violated Washington’s longstanding political disclosure law 822 separate times.

It is the largest campaign finance penalty ever issued anywhere in the country, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office said.

Each violation of the law is typically punishable by up to $10,000, but since North found that Meta intentionally violated the law, the fines can be tripled.

North fined Meta $30,000 for each of its 822 violations.

Ferguson, who brought the case against Meta, had asked for the maximum possible fine after his office sued Facebook in 2018 for violating the same law.

“I have one word for Facebook’s conduct in this case — arrogance,” Ferguson said Wednesday. “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?


“I urge Facebook to come to its senses, accept responsibility, apologize for its conduct and comply with the law,” Ferguson said. “If Facebook refuses to do this, we will beat them again in court.”

Ferguson’s office is also requesting that its attorneys’ fees be tripled, for a total of $10.5 million. North will decide on that figure at a later date.

Meta declined to comment.

Washington’s transparency law, originally passed by voters through an initiative in 1972, requires ad sellers such as Meta to disclose the names and addresses of political ad buyers, the targets of such ads and the total number of views of each ad. Ad sellers must provide the information to anyone who asks for it.

Other sellers of political ads, including television stations and newspapers, have had to abide by the Washington requirements for decades.

In 2018, after Ferguson’s first lawsuit, Facebook said it would stop selling political ads in the state, rather than comply with the law. Google, similarly, said it would stop selling political ads in Washington.

But they didn’t stop selling political ads. Google and Facebook both paid $200,000 fines in 2018.


Ferguson sued Facebook again in 2020.

Meta had tried to have the case thrown out and Washington’s campaign finance law declared unconstitutional, arguing it “unduly burdens political speech” and is “virtually impossible to fully comply with.”

But North found the company’s violations were intentional because of its history of failure to comply with the law, its extensive experience with campaign finance law and its “lack of good faith and failure to acknowledge and take responsibility for its violations.”

From 2019 to 2021, three people requested information from Meta about the political ads it was selling (even as it said it had stopped selling ads in Washington).

But Meta never provided these requesters with the information required by Washington law, North wrote. When it did provide information, it was insufficient, redacted, or weeks or months late, North wrote.

“Meta not only continued to solicit Washington Political Advertisements, but Meta was aware that its announced ‘ban’ would not, and did not, stop all such advertising from continuing to be displayed on its platform,” North wrote.

Meta, one of the world’s highest-valued companies, reported revenue Wednesday of nearly $28 billion in the third quarter of this year, and a quarterly profit of $4.39 billion.