Washington state’s attorney general files lawsuits against Facebook Inc over political advertisements

Facebook is facing yet another lawsuit over its political advertisement policy on its platform.

Washington state’s attorney general has filed a second lawsuit against Facebook Inc over political ads saying the social media giant has once again failed to make disclosures required under the state’s campaign finance laws.

In 2018, Facebook had paid $238,000 to resolve a dispute over political advertising in Washington state. Later that year, Facebook had announced that it would stop accepting political ads related to state or local initiatives in Washington; however it still continued to permit advertisements revolving around “issues of national importance” targeting people in the state.

In a statement, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said, since 2018, Facebook has continued to sell hundreds of ads to at least 171 state political committees in clear violation of its own policy.

Ferguson went on to add, while Facebook’s Ad Library, a searchable database aimed at providing transparency around political advertising, provides basic information surrounding those ads, it does not disclose details that are required under Washington law, including the name of the person paying for the ads as well as their exact cost.

In a statement, Facebook’s spokeswoman said, it aims to work with authorities in Washington to resolve the issue.

After U.S. intelligence agencies found that Russia had targeted U.S. voters using social media content, including ads, during the 2016 presidential elections, social media companies have been more forth coming on political advertising.

Facebook’s Ad Library has been a cornerstone in its efforts to be more transparent on its role in elections, with the social media giant frequently referring to it in response to criticism about its decision not to fact-check political ads. This is in contrast to researchers who say that the database is poorly maintained and fails to provide detailed targeting data.

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