Washington State has sued Facebook Inc. and Alphabet’s Google for alleged violations of state campaign finance laws.
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The companies reportedly failed to maintain information about political advertising, as required by state law.
Washington State has a law that requires companies keep information about who purchases political ads, how they pay for it as well as the candidate or ballot measure at issue. The companies must make this information available to the public upon request. Other states make buyers responsible for the disclosure.
"Washington's political advertising disclosure laws apply to everyone, whether you are a small-town newspaper or a large corporation. Washingtonians have a right to know who's paying for the political advertising they see," Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement.
According to Ferguson, Washington candidates and political committees have spent nearly $5 million to advertise on Facebook and Google over the past decade.
Facebook and Google have faced criticism for their role in selling political ads. Both companies recently increased the transparency when it comes to who is buying their adds, with Facebook introducing tools for people to see who is buying political ads, while Google said it would create an online archive of ads that run on its service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report