Twitter to pay $100,000 to Washington for violating state’s campaign finance laws

Twitter will pay $100,000 to Washington after the social media platform failed to maintain public inspection records of nearly $200,000 paid to it for political ads in violation of state law, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) says.

a close up of a computer: Twitter to pay $100,000 to Washington for violating state's campaign finance laws

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Twitter to pay $100,000 to Washington for violating state’s campaign finance laws

The judgement filed Tuesday in King County Superior Court asserts that since 2012, Twitter has failed to maintain records from at least 38 Washington candidates and committees that bought ads.

Washington’s campaign finance law requires political advertisers to retain records related to political ads.

“Transparency in political advertising is critical to a free and informed electorate,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Whether you’re a local newspaper or a multinational social media platform, you must follow our campaign finance laws.”

A Twitter spokesperson said the resolution with Washington is “reflective of our commitment to transparency and accountability,” noting the company’s decision to ban all political advertising starting in November 2019.

“We’ll continue working to uphold our commitment to transparency and to protect the health of the online public conversation, especially ahead of the 2020 U.S. Election,” the spokesperson added.

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The state’s suit against Twitter is one of several Ferguson has sought against tech giants over political advertising.

The attorney general in December of 2018 said Google and Facebook would each pay more than $200,000 to resolve lawsuits over their failure to maintain information about political ads on their platforms since 2013.

Ferguson said in April he launched a second lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly selling Washington state political ads without maintaining legally required information, alleging that its violations were intentional.

Social media companies have faced increasing scrutiny over their handling of political advertising.

Facebook has not banned political ads, nor has it instituted a policy to fact-check them.

Under mounting scrutiny over the spread of misinformation, Facebook said last month it would ban new political ads in the weeks leading up to Election Day in an effort to combat misinformation about voting, and it plans to stop running social issues, electoral and political ads in the U.S. after polls close on Nov. 3.

Google last month also said it will bar election-related advertising after polls close next month.

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