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Seattle: Facebook is violating city campaign finance law

Seattle: Facebook is violating city campaign finance law
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Seattle’s election watchdog on Monday said that Facebook has violated its election advertising laws, reports Reuters.

The city’s move is the first attempt at regulatory action on internet companies over political ads on their platforms.

The company could pay as much as $5,000 per ad in fines to the city if it does not disclose information about campaign spending on its platform during last year’s Seattle city elections, said Wayne Barnett, an executive director at the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

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Facebook had until Jan. 2 to comply with a preexisting Seattle campaign finance law that required it to disclose political ads it sold during the city’s elections, according to the local newspaper, The Stranger.

“We gave Facebook ample time to comply with the law,” Barnett said.

The company, along with Google, was granted a 30-day extension, but still has not complied with the law according to Barnett.

Google has asked for another extension, which is still pending.

Seattle’s crackdown on digital political advertising follows efforts to do the same at the federal level. In Congress, Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharIs there a difference between good and bad online election targeting? Election Countdown: Minnesota Dems worry Ellison allegations could cost them key race | Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters | Takeaways from Tennessee Senate debate | Poll puts Cruz up 9 in Texas Clusters of polio-like illness in the US not a cause for panic MORE (D-Minn.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism Is there a difference between good and bad online election targeting? Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel MORE (D-Va.) have spearheaded legislation to force firms like Facebook, Google and Twitter to be more transparent in who is buying political ads on their platforms.

Their bill, the Honest Ads Act, has yet to catch traction in Congress, despite lawmakers on both sides of the aisle saying that they are interested in some type of increased political ad regulation on digital platforms.

Technology firms have not supported Klobuchar and Warner’s bill but have begun to voluntarily share more information about who is purchasing political ads on their websites.